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Javier Jiménez Rolo surprises with Saint Malo, a project that explores the intersections of neoclassicism, folk, ambient and electronic textures.
That Saint-Malo is a town in Brittany is the least of it. Even the fact that it exists is unimportant. Javier has never been there. Similarly, his album takes us to remote or not so remote places without moving from where we are. Javier composed these twelve songs between 2019 and 2021 from his room: "One of the problems with recording at home rather than in a studio is that when you move, your recording space changes too. In the case of this album, I was involved in three moves during its whole process. Trying to see the positive side of this situation, I realised that, as well as a collection of songs, it was a testimonial to the different places where I had lived during those years and their respective views: 'Promenade' is an imagined walk from an interior flat; 'Picture In A Frame' is a sunny afternoon in a park in Ciudad Lineal, Madrid, and 'Bells Of Nowhere' is a stroll through the neighbourhood that was once my grandparents' and is now mine."
It's an eminently evocative album but also powerfully narrative, which moves through different emotional states. Along the way, references as heterogeneous as Javier's own tastes come up. From the inevitable Arvo Pärt, Max Richter and Steve Reich to the more unsuspected Thom Yorke, Burial, Caribou, Vulfpeck or even Dua Lipa. Stéphane Grappelli, Andrew Bird, Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnalds or Rene Aubry are other names Javier mentions when he talks about something similar to influences.
The journey, during which the songs miraculously fit with magical precision to the landscapes we are travelling through, begins with the promising 'Beware Of The Dogs' and 'Maltravieso'. It is followed by the obsessive arpeggios of 'Le Havre' that give way to the luminous 'Fields Of Gold', the emotion of 'Cais do Sodré' and the passionate 'Le pont roulant', reminiscent of a restrained Alexandre Desplat. Along the way, dogs will bark, rain will fall on the 'Promenade' and the sun will come out with the perfectly playful 'Dolce Far Niente' ("a mix between elevator music and a song announcing the arrival of summer" according to Javier) in which echoes of Isao Tomita and Raymond Scott resound.
The result of this captivating, unexpected and suggestive mixture is Saint Malo, Javier Jiménez's first album and the empirical demonstration that he does not have, despite his classical training, any red lines. "I've always flirted with jazz, with swing... Then I moved on to messing around with loops, to doing more ambient and experimental things. I also had my folkie phase with the klezmer group Barrunto Bellota Band..."
In Saint Malo the melodies grow, become small, return and intertwine with loops and improbable aromas, to form an album that describes a journey through emotions. From melancholy to joy and the surprise of first discoveries.
1. Beware Of The Dogs
3. Le Havre
4. Fields Of Gold
5. Cais Do Sodré
6. Long Chemin
7. Picture In A Frame
9. Dolce Far Niente
10. Le Pont Roulant
12. Bells Of Nowhere