He’s a busy man, that Scott Herren. A mere month since the release of his last Prefuse 73 album, with a new EP from that same persona due in early June, an upcoming tour supporting it, a seemingly endless array of multiple identities to keep track of, and somehow he still finds time to collaborate with his fellow Savaths to produce La Llama, a dreamy, almost free-form forty-five minutes of ‘Catalan Psych-Folk.’

Fortunately this isn’t the most competitive of genres, so the band – completed by Catalonian Eva Puyuelo Muns and Ecuadorian Roberto Carlos Lange – are able to relax the pace a bit. This isn’t an album of anthems or singles, nor even of any particularly memorable riffs or refrains: it’s more a drifting haze of shifting sounds and swirling vocals, dancing at the fringes of consciousness like cloud-shadows upon hillsides.

Occasional reminders of Herren’s day-job feel their way through to the surface, subtle glitches and electronic textures breaching La Llama’s out-of-time complexion, most notably on Intro and Adeu, two minutes of ambient discordance that frame the album with melancholy and restraint. The mood aptly set light and dark continue to commingle, the title track a strange dance of lullaby melodies and resigned violins, unsettling percussion and double bass, as though a soundtrack to a purgatory of lost souls.

A hypnotic, tired beauty suffuses the whole album with a slight miasma of regret, hints of decay tinging every note, yet it’s never a depressing listen. Bewildering, yes – there’s little to grab hold of here, little opportunity to orientate yourself within the layers of rising chants and Catalonian entreaties – but clarity is overrated, formula listless and worn.

Ultimately La Llama is never going to soundtrack any dinner parties, its evocation of a bleached and over-saturated realm of folk-tales and barbed fairy stories unlikely to ever garner a mass audience. But those of us that prefer our sunsets to cast more shadows than they illumine will find much to love here.


Christian Cottingham


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