Known only by their given names, Òscar and Desirée formed Barcelona’s Persona in 2005, first appearing on the Koji Tano Tribute Compilation which was released by Austria’s Steinklang Industries. Their name comes from the Etrurian, Greek and Latin tradition of theater and means character (according to this tradition of the ancient tragedies and mask roles). The band practices several styles between dark ambient, industrial and experimental. The sound of Persona includes dark atmospheres, lyrical melodies, solemn percussion and noisy backgrounds.
Persona is a conceptual project that works to combine the visual artwork and music through which they explore topics such as death, isolation, mankind’s timeless worries, nature, mythology, alchemy and occultism, history, and art. Their inspirations are their land’s culture, art, poetry, cinema, and literature.
With Sota Setge: Memòria de Sant Ferran, Persona approaches the subject of the Catalonian fortress of Sant Ferran, seemingly with a sense of melancholy as if the castle now projects the immensity of the conflicts it has endured with its storied past. Since the beginning of its construction in 1753, the structure and grounds have served as a stronghold against numerous French invasions, all the while staying in a state of construction well into the 19th century.
Persona’s sound is what I would describe as “quietly martial”, and, stylistically, they lean towards neoclassical with martial influences. The album as a whole never strays from a mid-tempo presentation, but instead marches along, in reference to the Sant Ferran fortress itself. Like the monolithic structure that Sant Ferran is, so is the music representing its history.
Sota Setge: Memòria de Sant Ferran contains ten tracks and features the song “Capitulació: l’Entrada del Francès” by Le Silence des Ruines. The album opens quite softly with subdued, yet militaristic percussions providing the base for gentle woodwinds, lush string sections, and flute.
The Le Silence des Ruines track picks up the tempo a bit and is one of the album’s standout tracks, providing a bit of tension with punctuated horns. “La Victòria de Piat” and “La Mort del General” showcase some beautiful female vocals before the album ventures into a bit of experimental and noise territory with “El Silenci de la Guàrdia.”
“8 de Febrer de 1939” returns to a much more grand sound – very cinematic with horns that crescendo and combine with a male choir near the end in a fairly majestic fashion. The final track slips the album back to a slower pace, bringing the final chapter of Sota Setge: Memòria de Sant Ferran back to the album’s starting point.
Well-produced and written, my one complaint was my original observation in that the album, in its entirety, moves rather methodically and leaves me wanting a few more tracks that accelerate the pace a bit. Perhaps I want something that is not Persona’s style though, and I’ll leave misgiving at that.
01) La Construcció d’Una Defensa
02) A les Portes de la Guerra Gran
03) Capitulació: l’Entrada del Francès (LSDR)
04) La Victòria de Piat
05) La mort del General
06) L’entrada dels Cent mil Fills de Sant Lluís
07) El Silenci de la Guàrdia
08) Baluard Republicà
09) 8 de Febrer de 1939
10) Memòria del Sant Ferran Inacabat