Album Review: Alex Under / ‘La Máquina de Bolas’ (Soma)


An ambient album that’s essentially a dreamy essay about how to control a loop in the middle of the pleasure-pain theory, you can take Alex Under as a sedative or someone to whiten your knuckles by. Ten- and 11-minute passages from the Spaniard mean there’s a lot of time for thoughts to enter your head. If you turn it on and leave it humming in the background, that’s fine — therapeutic washing machines and faraway steam trains are comparable in sound if your mind is set to counting sheep by slow stewing house. If you’re an insomniac who can’t stand playing shepherd, you’ll be drawn in by the scrabbling, rhythmic raindrops and subtle insertion of tension. The cycling, sometimes tribal kaleidoscope, becomes undercut with blood reds and monochrome slashes, before morphing out with charming and carefree burbles and flickers to have you teetering on the edge of the bed. Atmosphere creeps up and cloaks you from faint composition gaining strands of strength (“Bola 4” records the sounds of wandering dead souls) and patient programming, which sounds an obvious component to press home, but shouldn’t be overlooked.

La Máquina de Bolas translates as “pinball machine.” Under isn’t interested in high scores and hitting flippers into a blur, but nonetheless chops and screws the LCD displays and sets the ball shooting down the runway in slow mesmeric motion.
File under: Dolly La Parton, Friendly People, Thomas Fehlmann

Matt Oliver

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