Matilda Manzana - Todas las Ciudades Inundadas

Todas las Ciudades Inundadas,
Matilda Manzana

Grabaciones Amor, México
Rating: 74
by Pierre Lestruhaut

It’s pretty clear that Matilda Manzana’s Todas las Ciudades Inundadas sounds like the work of a lonely and fragile human being, breathing a state of loneliness that perhaps isn’t so much like guy-who-isolated-himself-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods-for-six-months lonely but more like guy-who-spends-his-time-in-a-small-bedroom-in-front-of-his-laptop lonely. Ironically enough, in this strange fashion net labels have of fictionalizing their albums’ genesis, Grabaciones Amor tells us that this was recorded while Oscar Rodríguez (the man behind Matilda Manzana) was alone on top of a tall building during a worldwide flood and coincidentally had with him with him a guitar, a sampler and a recorder.

I would usually dismiss this as sheer conceptualization but, as I pointed out, Todas las Ciudades Inundadas is indeed a work of dying poet desolation, even though it rarely seeks to obtain the stature of #foreveralone anthem that has El Medio’s “Que bueno que nadie piensa en mí." Because, even if “Que bueno” managed to portray loneliness through lyricism, there still was an inherent bliss to it with its charango upbeat melody. Matilda Manzana is more about embodying loneliness through interpretation and melody in a way that his voice, guitar and loops altogether bring us back to that state of seclusion by means of music and not words.

Rodriguez’s approach to songwriting is extremely minimal, as most of his songs simply sit down on a repetitive pattern while progressively adding up layers of sound, which technically speaking wouldn’t differ much from that of label mate María y José. Yet Rodríguez seems much more influenced by the likes of Animal Collective and Panda Bear circa 2004 considering how much space there actually is in their music. Take the album’s title track and how he incessantly returns to that same beautiful vocal melody while subtly shifting its ambient surroundings, or take “Narva Guinea” with its minimalist El Guincho-inspired beat which he lets breathe and ends on a constant “Y ya vámonos ya...”

Some smaller details in Todas las Ciudades Inundadas also make for a very naive record (at times an appealing feature) like the way Rodríguez opts for a lo-fi aesthetic in filling with echo the space in his guitar driven songs, or how he harmonizes by whistling and mouth trumpeting in “Osotortuga," an old trick you’d probably only see being pulled off by dudes playing guitars on city corners. Perhaps Oscar Rodriguez really needs to go out a little more and meet an actual trumpeter or someone who can provide backing vocals to his chord progressions, yet the thought of the isolated musician surrounded by water in the middle of the city is still a nice picture to illustrate this record, both conceptually and sonically.