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ARTIST
TITLE
Spectral Evolution
FORMAT
LP

LABEL
CATALOG #
M14 LP M14 LP
GENRE
RELEASE DATE
2/23/2024

LP version. "After a two-decade interlude, Jim O'Rourke's Moikai returns with Spectral Evolution, a major new work by Rafael Toral. Making his name in the mid-1990s with influential guitar drone platters like Sound Mind Sound Body and Wave Field, Toral has never been one to rest on his laurels repeating his past glories. Since 2017, Toral's work has been entering a new phase, often still centered around the arsenal of self-built instruments developed in the Space Program, but with a renewed interest in the long tones and almost static textures of his earlier work; he has also, after more than a decade, returned to the electric guitar. Spectral Evolution is undoubtedly Toral's most sophisticated work to date, bringing together seemingly incompatible threads from his entire career into a powerful new synthesis, both wildly experimental and emotionally affecting. Toral manages the almost miraculous feat of having his self-built electronic instruments (which in the past he had seen as 'inadequate to play any music based on the Western system') play in tune. In an unexpected sidestep away from any of his previous work, the chord changes that underpin many of the episodes on Spectral Evolution are derived from classic jazz harmony, including takes on the archetypal Gershwin 'Rhythm changes' and Ellington-Strayhorn's 'Take the ʻA' Train,' albeit slowed to such an extent that each chord becomes a kind of environment in its own right. Threading together twelve distinct episodes into a flowing whole, Spectral Evolution alternates moments of airy instrumental interplay with dense sonic mass, breaking up the pieces based on chord changes with ambient 'Spaces.' At points reduced to almost a whisper, at other moments Toral's electronics wail, squelch, and squeak like David Tudor's live-electronic rainforest. Similarly, his use of the guitar encompasses an enormous dynamic and textural range, from chiming chords to expansive drones, from crystal clarity to fuzzy grit: on the beautiful 'Your Goodbye,' his filtered, distorted soloing recalls Loren Connors in its emotive depth and wandering melodic sensibility. The product of three years of experimentation and recording, and synthesizing the insights of more than thirty years of musical research, Spectral Evolution is the quintessential album of guitar music from Rafael Toral."