Wild Honey - Big Flash

Big Flash, Wild Honey
Lazy Recordings/Lovemonk, Spain
Rating: 79
by Souad Martin-Saoudi 

The insatiable Guillermo Farre continues to move forward in the glittering territory he began to explore with Epic Handshakes and a Bear Hug (2009). Riding along the avenues, alleyways, and discreet tree-lined passages of his creation, he has reached the whimsical lands of Wild Honey. The aerial textures of the guitars and keyboards, the vocal harmonies and the reverb arrangements that were hallmarks of past Wild Honey works now act as signals of Farre’s thorough understanding of sound aesthetics to shine brighter. Farre abandoned home production and enlisted one of his musical heroes, Tim Gane from Stereolab, to help with production. The creative union appears to be fruitful in all respects as gentle warmth nestled in serenity emanates from this sunny album recorded at soundmagic studios in Berlin. Wild Honey attains a much clearer sound that best serves those sometimes-wistful, sometimes-lighthearted '60s-influenced melodies and harmonies. 

The Madrileño maintains his anecdotal and sensitive way of writing, yet deploys it on more intricate and elaborately decorated soundscapes. All tracks are multi-layered, even kaleidoscopic, echoing the collage on the cover. The sweet and bouncy album’s opener “An Army Of Fat Synths” rather perfectly blends the naivety in Farre’s voice with forceful percussion and retro-futuristic accents (brainchild of both Gane's and Farre’s sonic explorations and recollections). On “The Kite And Captain John” it seems like softness and finesse met denial and melancholy. Farre intones, “Let’s pretend that nothing changes but the weather,” with an awareness that inevitably results in a twinge of sorrow and a small knot in the throat of the listener. The mood is instantly brightened by the tambourine-inflected “It's All In The Film.” He is strangely reassuring in his tone while the surf-rock guitar just sways. The aerial synths and soft back vocals of “My Memory May Also Be A Wish” give a gliding sensation to this tale on selective memory. “Gothic Fiction” seems like a jolly number with added sunny groove and country flavor, yet emotion shows through when he sings about not being there for a friend in need. The sound of breaking waves that opens “See How Hard My Heart Is Beating” provides depth in a moment, using the depth of a moment. The tides and Farre’s inflections set the senses, drive out any agitation, and plunge into reveries.

Big Flash follows into a tribute to one of the initiators of avant-garde music in Brazil. “Rogério Duprat Looks Out The Window” alludes to the composer’s involvement with computer music while being backed by string arrangement. The energetic “The Newlyweds” contains a good dose of reverb with a bit of a psychedelia element. “Tooth Tree," as the title suggests, is a sentimental and idealistic number that somewhat recalls the work of Elliot Smith, though the blissful backing vocals bring us closer to twee territory. “Keyboards Under A Microscope” is a bossa nova-tinged tune on mysteries of the unknown.  On “Scissors In Hand” Farre whispers, “Greg Shaw, scissors in hand was here before,” referring to the fanzine publishing era of the Los Angeles-based label owner and rock and roll authority.  The album ends with the ethereal “Cleopatra," the shortest track of the pack. Punctuated by tambourine and what could be cat vocals or string chords, the banjo tune creates a sense of peacefulness.

The multi-instrumentalist presents a short and crazed collection of charmingly dysfunctional situations and backdrops derived from tones that actually never appear redundant. As with his last effort, the deliciously retro and saccharine 32-minute-long Big Flash calls for repeated listens to justly reveal all of its facets and brilliance. It’s with time that the 12 catchy anthemic songs burst—just like the album art, halfway between a chromatic circle and a paper made fire works—into mini incandescent explosions of joy.