Album Review: Mente Organica – ‘El Espacio’

The Breakdown

In the crowded world of dance inflected electronic sounds Mente Organica takes chances, steps out and is in no way anonymous….watch ‘El Espacio’ closely, there’s something happening.
Earthly Measures 8.0

Earthly Measures, the London based DJ and event creating duo, have been carefully and lovingly nurturing their record label through these turbulent times . They’ve put out a couple of compilations, digi-releases and EPs that deliver exquisitely curated global beat music with a leaning towards feet warming new electronica from South America. Now comes news followers have been waiting for, the label’s first full LP release ‘El Espacio’ by Colombian producer and instrumentalist Mente Organica , available to snatch digitally from now and on vinyl at the end of May.

With roots in Bogota Jacobo Polania, better known as Mente Organica, has been sampling the lush possibilities of the danceteria for several years with a string of inventive expeditions in the latin/electronic territory. If you’re a Bandcamp scroller check his ‘Singles 2018- 2020’ collection with its daring re-imaginings of Jose Gonzalez, Nina Simone and Fab Four pearls and you’ll get the drift of the Mente Organica mindset. This is music with a commitment to the groove but with a respect for the soul. So it comes as no surprise that with ‘El Espacio’ he delivers a sophisticated album, sensitively crafted, finely textured and powered by a rhythmic dynamo.

‘Pablo Bebe’ the loose and mellow opener lets you know exactly where it’s at. An urgent synth line brushes aside the whispers before blending into a keyboard skank that carries the tune almost cheekily to its full swish and shuffle. Inspired by close friendship the track shows Mente Organica bringing a personal warmth to the sounds but also, with the looped vocal hisses, electric clicks and soaring long notes, an undercurrent of tension.

That same fine line gets drawn in ‘Yoga’. As delicate percussion claps around the main bass throb and a tumbling Rhodes trickles over the beats, a looped conversation keeps returning mysteriously. Featuring and written with his musician father (a.k.a Turista) it’s a track of smoke and mirrors, simultaneously hypnotic but with a sense of rhythmic purpose. Mente Organica sure knows how to rise above the atmospherics and make his tunes stand out.

Such musical finesse jumps out time and again on ‘El Espacio’. There’s the layered vocals and beautifully sculpted pauses in the electronically charged ‘Huanini’; the classic distorted synths, Balearic vamps and jazz fusion flavours of ‘Dame Un Segundo’; and the down tuned guitar, swirling interference and the deepest trip-hop fug of the album’s title track. But it’s also the surprises that make this a record to remember. ‘Eagle’ featuring vocalist Katy Prado emphasises the natural with military snares, chunky vibraphones and tingling guitars. On this cut track Mente pushes Prado’s crystal clear voice to the front and confidently explores the quirkily dramatic potential of a folktronic/nu-classical connection.

Talking of theatrics, ‘Close the Door’ reveals another widescreen dimension to Mente Organica’s music. It’s a track with a gothic foundation, doomy surging synths, monastic chants and a claustrophobic pulse that echoes the isolating loneliness of recent times. This song could have made a neat finale but instead he goes for something more representative of the album’s vibe, the subtle uplift of ‘Partida’. With a swelling chord pattern it’s a closer which beams out a relaxed positivity and parallels a slow chugging Death in Vegas at their most anthemic. As ‘Partida’ fades out to the gentle finger taps on hand drums, it signs off with a human touch, a fitting footnote to an album distinguished by its personality and individuality. In the crowded world of dance inflected electronic sounds Mente Organica takes chances, steps out and is in no way anonymous….watch ‘El Espacio’ closely, there’s something happening.

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