HE MAY Not be quite as familiar a name on these shores, but in Spain Suso Sáiz is something of an Eno figure; a pioneer of ambient and minimalist music in the country, he’s released something like 28 albums of beautiful and exploratory music since his 1984 debut, Prefiero El Naranja (‘I Prefer Orange’). He’s a founder of Spanish new age collective La Orquesta de las Nubes and has worked alongside such contemporaries as Steve Roach, Fennesz, and Roedelius.
By contrast Madrid’s Menhir, the duo of Iván Cebrián and Coco Moya, are relative newcomers, with the just the one album, 2018’s Sound Track, reissued this year, to their name; their aesthetic is focused on the notion of speculative territory and the states of consciousness, explored through music, sound installations, performances, rituals, videos and publications. But the respective artists know a fine fellow traveller when they encounter one and have long mutually appreciated each other’s soundscaping.
Now the two have united for a one-off digital album for Phantom Limb’s lovely and well-curated Spirituals imprint, thus following in the footsteps of fine and varied artists such as Dau, Francesca Ter-Berg, Dylan Henner, and others; that album to be released in February and called Just Before Silence.
The collaboration began in an improvisation in the studio, the first time they played together. They performed without discussion, being led by the intuition and a feel for each others’ work. Menhir’s Coco Moya recalls the atmosphere during the session having “a tendency to silence. A way to approach sound-making. A way to approach a sound encounter without words or concepts, just by letting the musical perceptions and emotions coexist and connect.”
A first single has been unveiled today, and you can hear that tendency to a silence; incredibly blissful, it has the quality of an early Slowdive, slowed right down; a much mellower Flying Saucer Attack, almost wordless, the meditative quality of the sun setting over a virgin snowfield.
The album comprises seven tracks in total; it very much sounds one to grab for lovers of the drift and the deepening.
Suso Sáiz x Menhir’s Just Before Silence will be released digitally by Spirituals on February 11th and is available for pre-order now at Bandcamp.