In the latest in a series of slightly misleading dream pop/shoegaze band names, Berlina is the work of Madrid resident Alfonso Herrero and his co-musicians. To date, they have recorded just two EPs and it’s their self-titled second release which is under the microscope here.
In what some would say is a brave move, Herrero sings in his native Spanish tongue but it’s a good decision as his tones add a haunting counterpoint to the dreamlike backdrops. ‘Tiempo y Transfiguración’ (Time and Transfiguration) is dramatic but – even more so – rather eerie as swooning guitars and soothing keyboard washes fade in and out, wrapped around Herrero’s breathy vocals. It’s an intoxicating beginning. The synths are piled on high for ‘Sintex’ which – at only two and a half minutes in length – essentially serves as an interlude to the epic final track. ‘Estado de Naturaleza’ (‘State Of Nature’) begins with three minutes of scene-setting, driving Krautrock rhythms but then the track evolves; bringing in ghostly vocals, some equally spooky synths and an extra dose of funk muscle. It’s a testament to Herrera’s arrangement skills that the song never flags during its nine minute duration.
Berlina delight on each track with breezy, ambient washes adding an air of intrigue to proceedings, in a not dissimilar way to Auburn Lull or Mahogany. Naturally, when judging an act just on seventeen minutes of music, one can never get too carried away but this is certainly an excellent, mysterious and beguiling introduction to Berlina’s music.
Mahogany, Auburn Lull, The Meeting Places