Ruido En Cuyo is, as its title suggests, a noise compilation from the mountainous Cuyo region of western Argentina. It is a wide-ranging release, hulled from the work of diverse and disparate artists. But these differing approaches and intents find common ground in their sublimity and their numinousness. Let's examine the components of this wildly successful whole.
The first track, Ñoki's 'Al gas', heaves things into life with a dysphoric reworking of what can just about be discerned as panpipes. 'Al gas' has a vastness recalling late Caretaker releases — but snatches its own grandeur away, pulling an unexpected hip-hop verse out of the hat. It's one of those tracks which sounds strange on paper, but soars in such assured hands as these.
Ensamble Passionaria follow up with 'Frackmaputechnoising'. This is another oddity. Laid-back house pounds beneath some garbled spoken word, whose tone (somehow) sits between lecturing and apologetic. This track, too, takes a sharp turn at its mid-point, swelling into bright and beautiful noise structures.
The noise reaches its apex in Ese's 'Culpables', which provides the album with a welcome burst of energy. It's a little rote when compared with what's come before — but still incorporates speech wonderfully. Imagine the disembodied narrator of Radiohead's 'Fitter Happier' being fed into a shredder.
Lorenzo Gomez Oviedo's 'Piercing' allows for some breathing room, engulfing the fire of 'Culpables' with a mysterious fog. It plays out like a ramble into the woods as a rāga-style drum beat accompanies. It feels like reaching a frontier; walking deeper and deeper inwards, and exploring the liminal space between the comfort of home and the dark danger of the wilderness.
This sets the tone perfectly for Los Paysasos Muertos' 'El payaso oficial'. From the dark woods we fall into a clearing. A Mike Patton-led cult conjures demons up from the wet soil. Fireflies paint green freckles across the soft orange of the gloaming.
Indro's 'El agarrobal mendoza' makes a retreat from the woods, reintroducing mechanical sounds. Handles creak and rain buzzes on contact with the power lines. It's still unsettling — but plays with familiarity, leaving those untamed, Romantic landscapes in its wake.
This proves, however, to be a short stopover. Roi Maciaz's 'Hechizos de socoscora' brings the focus back to ritual and conjuration. A relentless chug, like the paddles of a steamer, pulls us past the scene. We are drawn in and scared off all at once. Not for the first time on Ruido En Cuyo, we are made to feel on the threshold of something — toes over the tip of the diving board, the water below too black to hold our shadows.
A Casa presents, in 'Días sin nosotros', a number-one single from hell. It's a hopeful, even catchy composition; but one that's shouting from beneath six feet of molten tar. In this sense it's partially reminiscent of Fever Ray — but this is firmly in a style of its own. It comes completely out of left-field, contrasting beautifully with the rest of the compilation.
Things get switched up again. Darío Matta's 'Portantiero / Bábaro' explores negative space and quiet. In such a colourful and varied release, the last sonic mine to be plumbed is silence. It's an understated, noodling sound collage. Alarm-like tones patch its fabric, but never intrude or insist. It pulls attention like a silent crib.
And rounding things off is Inti's 'Pelusa', the compilation's longest piece by some distance. Again we intrude on the liminal; thresholds, cliff edges. 'Pelusa' feels like an industrial Castle Dracula. It shifts through time and space, and provokes the irrational fear of a presence in a corridor you can see is empty.
These ten compositions support each other beautifully. Distinguishable but contiguous, humbly ambitious, they juggle beauty and terror like it's easy.
Contributing artists: Ñoki, Ensamble Passionaria, Ese, Lorenzo Gomez Oviedo, Los Paysasos Muertos, Indro, Roi Maciaz, A Casa, Darío Matta, Inti
Ruido En Cuyo is available for streaming and purchase here.
Words by Andrew O’Keefe