Label: Testoon Records
Release Date: 01/06/2015
El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, is home to Tibataje — a jagged and imposing mountain that stands at a thousand metres tall and eight kilometres across. This is the site of the latest release from Michael Fahres. Recorded at the foot of the mountain, Fahres’ Tibataje LP is a labyrinth of tessellating percussive grooves, played on traditional El Hierro wooden drums and later electronically manipulated by Fahres in the studio.
The mountain is said to possess distinctive percussive qualities. Every sound that hits the face of the rock is imitated back to the world, in a strange form of call-and-response. The album aims to hone in on this effect; “aggrandising, clarifying, changing and uncovering the specific characteristics of the mountain using music as its means.” This LP marks something of a departure for Fahres, as most will know him for his electronic experiments dating back to the 70s. The result is a recording as eerily still as the mountain itself, with a kind of quiet-before-the-storm uneasiness about it. At points there is nothing but the sporadic dry thud of the drums. At others, we are left with only the soft hums of the wind laying dormant in the backdrop.
Despite the fact that only three drummers are present in the entire recording, it can often sound as if an complete ensemble are playing at you with full blare, smothering the entire stereo field in an immense web of polyrhythmic power. You can hear the off-kilter echoes of the mountain, exploring the terrain’s sonic possibilities and presenting them within a new creative context. The album’s closer, ‘Davor’ is perhaps the most estranging in this regard. Ambient pads, alarm clocks and glottal oboes creep into the mix, blurring the line between the real and the imaginary at the very last stretch of the piece.