Migala Arde

It can be tough for any non-UK band from Europe to make any headway in North America, and there's no reason to think that it won't also be true for Spain's Migala. Fortunately, they do have some fairly high-ranking fans in the shape of Will Oldham and Mark Kozalek, which could help their profile, and they were part of the Sub-Pop Singles Club, but there's absolutely no reason why they can't stand on their own feet with the release of an album of Arde's calibre. Arde (Spanish for "it burns") is Migala's third album and it is tinged with some country influences - the instrumentals are not unlike the Sadies at their rollicking best, while the vocal tracks follow the same route as Palace and Drunk. This translates into atmospheric tunes that conjure up visions of the bleakest Spanish countryside. Some songs fade in and out without revealing all their secrets while others build delicately before disintegrating before your very ears; the way the band manipulates the music is a joy to behold. There is a strong similarity to the work of the Tindersticks, with mumbled yet tuneful vocals that are sung in both English and Spanish with equal effectiveness. There are even hints towards the likes of Godspeed You Black Emperor!, because of some rich orchestration and the use of samples and sound effects throughout many of the songs. I can't believe that Migala have managed to slip through the cracks for so long; they make such beautiful music that they are bound to find their willing audience eventually. But the final word should go to the band, Migala's motto is "To make classic songs with an uncanny atmosphere," and that pretty much sums up Arde in one convenient sentence. (Acuarela)