Album, Single and EP Reviews



  Santa Elena by Ala Muerte

Santa Elena cover art

Artist: Ala Muerte
Title: Santa Elena
Catalogue Number: Public Guilt PG016
Review Format: CD
Release Year: 2008

Santa Elena is the first full length album from Ala Muerte (the alias of New Yorker Bianca Biblioni) and it was apparently recorded in her apartment.

Certainly the sound quality is nothing special but the music is what is important and we are not talking three minute pop songs here. The songs on this album are more like mood pieces and it is unlikely therefore that you will find yourself singing along to them while you are doing the dishes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they sound much better on headphones when you are cut off from the world. Looking at specific songs, "Grim" is, as its title would suggest, downbeat but at the same time atmospheric and emotional like the soundtrack to an old black and white horror movie. The Nyman-esque undertones of "Red Flags" support what is just short of a torch song and the closing track, "Fireweed", decides against subtlety and makes a very concerted attempt at getting your attention.

Albums like this one are quite interesting in that your opinion of them varies with your mood and circumstances. The first time that I played it was whilst driving and, to be honest, it was simply annoying. However, when playing it at home on a dark and stormy night, it seemed more focused and it soon drew you in to the comfort of its myriad musical textures. If you like a bit of the Cocteau Twins occasionally then you should be well pleased with this album.
Review Date: November 16 2008