I wasn’t planning on writing a review to Era Extraña until I read that OOR and several music blogs feel that Alan Palamo aka Neon Indian has fallen back from his position as front runner to an exciting new musical genre to a place somewhere in the rear, amongst the recreational participants. Such a bogus claim demands a more sophisticated opinion. Unfortunately, that’s not our unique selling point at Indiefuzz. For Alan Palamo – who will perform in People’s place on the 21st of November – we are willing to try.
Just before X-mas 2009 I wrote that the exciting electronic tunes of Neon Indian’s debut awoke warm nostalgic feelings in me that I couldn’t quite place. Psychic chasms echoed sounds and images I only recognized on a subconscious level. They must have originated somewhere between childhood and adolescence, during the latter days of disco and the early days of videogames. Nostalgia is still the core emotion on Neon Indian’s sophomore album. Only this time around I have less difficulty pinpointing its roots and also the sentiment isn’t that ‘warm’ anymore, at least not all the time.
If advanced single Polish girl had tricked us into thinking that Alamo was going to continue on much the same path as Psychic Chasms, we are soon awoken by Blindside Kiss, the third track of the new album that I would describe as My bloody Valentine covering a song by Empire of the sun, even though that would be a chorological impossibility. Hex Girlfriend confirms the departure from Psychic Chasms’ sticky disco beat. Instead a multitude of influences are audible, from shoegaze and indierock to the disturbing europop of the album’s title track. References: Deerhunter, Gary Numan, Aphex Twins, Hüsker Dü, Lush, Howard Jones and Falco(!). Era Extraña would be an inconsistent hotchpotch of an album if it weren’t held together by a thick blanket of blips and bleeps, woven together in way that hardly qualifies as lo-fi.
Alan Paloma says: ‘I’ve evolved into a person who’s more fascinated by instruments than just music’. Perhaps this is why, at times, Era Extrana feels more like a demonstration disc to the hip synthesizer he build last year, than the most anticipated chillwave release of 2011. Not that there’s anything wrong with demonstration discs. The demo discs (floppy that is) to first generation samplers like the Emulator and the Fairlight CMI, for instance, formed the basis for many a movie soundtrack and 80s synthpop hitsingle. The main purpose of demo discs, however, is not to entertain but to show off the possibilities. Despite having recorded at least half a dozen great new songs, the other half suggest this is what Palamo’s doing on his latest release.
Halfway throughout this review I forgot I was trying to rehabilitate Era Exrtãna after being unjustly criticized by OOR and others. Before you conclude that I’ve made it worse, let me state that the only artistic thing to do after you’ve created a musical genre is to transcend it. If we view Era Extrãna in that light it’s no longer a reasonable album in a familiar genre, but pioniering album in a genre yet to be discovered.