La Lucha Constante, Algodón Egipcio
Lefse Records, Venezuela
By Carlos Reyes
Constructed in the urban stretch of Caracas (Venezuela), Algodón Egipcio’s opera prima brings an artist’s eye to the hardscrabble role of music as the modern language syntax. La Luncha Constante (or the falls & triumphs of everyday life) is the subtropical and elliptical first solo album by Ezequiel Bertho ("Cheky"), who has crafted a garden of sounds comprised, encoded, and constituted by the force of individual reason. The human language is the rationale by which linguists romanticize about art, but the artists themselves thrive for readable formalism; the search for the aesthetic, the form, and the medium. The composition in this magnificent 10-piece record is of personal quest, but also of expansive WILD continuum.
Like the well-packaged titles of his songs, Algodon Egipcio’s shrewdness for craftsmanship is of inner expression and experience, but also attentively in dialogue with its era. In dialogue, but not in tune; Cheky’s platforms neither practice nor reject vocation, - they’re just ‘flowy.’ All these conditions allow for such a song like “La Transformación” to be read as a piece about the alteration of data, genetics, your virtual 'Second Life' character, or a full metamorphosis (and how sadly, there is no 'back button'). The cultural epochs in La Lucha Constante are allocated to a time frame; instead, we get a comprehension of its installment through the negotiation of rhythms that are presented to us. It’s as if Cheky’s infamous Afro was the epicenter for sylvan ideas and actions. The execution of such ideas - and how they come to action through the music- is more suffocating than nurturing, but trust me, for a visionary fascinated by The Smashing Pumpkins, Akron/Family & Destiny’s Child, the experience's outcomes are phenomenal.
Working with barely any instrumentation but a few chords and a lot of waves, we could fool you and describe this record as programmable mesh of language and technological composition, but that would be like reducing an elk’s horns to just its primitive defensive purposes. A garden of sounds? The afro as a music village? Elk’s horns? Yes, I might be pushing my music illusions to the limit, but when you’re as stimulated by a set of songs as I am in this case, there’s nothing more honest to do but to organize those illusions into all-senses diplomacy. When the accelerated opening heartbeats of “El Dia Previo” show up, another scale of water drops keeps the upcoming chords and melody on track… setting up the conditions for the first verbal narrative in the album. This is the structural form I’m referring to, acknowledging the intended form & the work of an auteur with your wildest approximation (Yes, I even have theories of why he’s missing a “LAS” on the album’s all-definite articulos grammar).
My review of the album might be as scattered as other critic’s giving it the ‘I don’t understand Spanish’ warning, but fortunately, this pop diviner gets his act together just fine. You might need to fully invest yourself in the text & sound ambiance, but once you’ve penetrated it, let’s just say you’ll be shoegazing these songs as suspiciously as you rocked to Big Boi’s “Shutterbugg” last year. While Cheky’s structure approach is ultra personal, the song’s lyricism is of universal emotion (without a drop of sentimentalism). The rooting but all-consuming landscape in “El Ingenio Humano” is like the last strike for a relationship, the folksy and resourceful “El Sonido Ensordecedor” shouts the surfacing of a new era, and “Los Parpados Caidos” is a sublime culmination/realization of the human strength. La Lucha Constante is touching, heroic, & disorienting, where even the cloudy tracks are triumphant. Cheky’s dislocating treatment of the medium as both, mechanism & text, sum up to a radiant slice of selective nature. La Luncha Constante is 2011’s wildflower, also, one of the year’s best albums.
La Lucha Constante, Algodón Egipcio