El Silencio en la Tierra, Silva de Alegría
by Sam Rodgers
Sergio Silva's parallel project to Furland, Silva de Alegría, showcases the artist's continuing development as a major composer of orchestral pop. Unlike his band's recent refinement of scope, and simplicity in themes and hooks, Silva de Alegría can at times be self-indulgent, but rightly so: this is an individual's concoction, a mishmash of styles, a Tumblr blog of inspiration. What makes Silva's music so intriguing is that he produces a lot, and we get to be privy to the artist evolve and strengthen his voice from album to album.
El Silencio en la Tierra is Silva de Alegría's first proper LP and it's a cohesive, surprising addition to his cannon of experimental-cum-easy-listening tunes. It opens with title track, and a direct hit of Silva's sublime grasp of melody. At first, there's a worry of straightforward tweeness, but within half a minute, strings add depth, a cello undulates with beats sounding like something new: and while Silva de Alegría's influences are noticeable, when a track sounds this confident, he becomes a formidable peer. The first track runs seamlessly into the next, "Adios Sr. Rey", forming a couplet of exuberant, 60s-inspired sunshine, tinged with folk and bluegrass. Third track, and first single, "Archipélagos" flaunts some country chops, before giving way to Silva's nostalgia for 8-bit synths (which find their way into several other tracks). Nevertheless, Silva weaves all these genres into each of the ten tracks, not succumbing to the showy, insecure genre-hopping that could have made a lesser album.
The album has a thematic focus of discovery and extinction, innocence, love and loss, with track names evoking antique maps: "El Pez Darwin", "El Ruido en el Mar", "Segundo Viaje del HMS Beagle", and the aforementioned "Archipélagos". This fascination and fixation on the natural world is reminiscent of Shearwater's The Golden Archipelago album, on which Jonathan Meiburg crafted personal songs inspired by geography and history. Unlike that band's output, El Silencio en la Tierra rollicks along with 'humor Beatles' on tracks like "Un Pato Atrás", and a subversive Jim O'Rourke-like melancholy on "Monografías", which has an uncharacteristic aggressive ending. The album also contains two mostly instrumental compositions, the flitting, frolicking "El Pez Darwin" and the final track, which recalls Silva's earlier, expansive work on Polifónica Polinesia, which clocks at over fifteen minutes.
Silva de Alegría could be a bit of an underrated genius (he wrote, produced, recorded, and mixed the entire thing), especially with an LP as dazzling and concentrated as this, casually bypassing hype: you can even download it at your own chosen price at his Bandcamp site. El Silencio en la Tierra sits in an odd piano-and-strings led alternative universe to the works of Panda Bear and Astro, maybe in the quadrant of contemporary bluegrass, like Nickel Creek, 70s folk, and the harmonies of the Beach Boys. In comparison to Furland's latest offering, which seemed pulled in too many stylistic directions, the lead singer of that band has been able to indulge his every instinct with his own project, and stay focussed on an overall sound. This album quietly achieves that creative progress, which is no mean feat.