One of the things that often seems to get lost in the tide of modern music is the ability it takes to write a really good song—something that’s catchy without being annoying, that’s heartfelt where so many things seem shallow or contrived. There are many artists who write melodies, but comparatively few write them really well. For years, Demian Recio, recording as Ô Paradis, has been recording material that incorporates elements of the traditional music of his Catalan homeland, electronic experimentalism, and the darker-tinged elements of European pop. His style has expanded since he first garnered attention as one of a handful of quirky, delightful artists like Nový Svět and Thomas Nöla, who emerged in the early part of this century. Since the beginning, however, the element that has shone through is Recio’s excellent songwriting.
Nacimiento continues along the trajectory of incorporating more into the distinctive Ô Paradis sound—an echoed trip-hop beat floating in the background, behind the vocals and acoustic guitars of ‘Nuestra Estela’, a North African melodic flourish woven into the pristine, almost glitchy electronics of ‘Mírame’, a groovy electro dance beat on ‘Desasirse’—but it’s a matter of slow expansion rather than radical departure. Recio’s characteristic subdued vocals and melancholy, sweet-but-never-sickly songs are always front and centre. This is an artist who knows very well how to play to his strengths.
The album starts strong and gets stronger and stranger as it goes along, so that it starts to feel like falling like Alice into a Catalan rabbit hole and being led along a path that’s increasingly magical and unfamiliar. This speaks to the ability of the music to draw you into its world, but also to the way in which the album is organized; it has a definite progression that makes it a whole experience, not a series of individual tracks. Despite the changes in sound, there is a coherence that makes listening to just part of it unsatisfactory.
There is an unflinching romanticism in the music of Ô Paradis that most artists are, or should be, afraid to attempt. This is normally the sort of thing that makes me cringe, but here it is so sincere that it suffocates even my engrained cynicism. Even when he incorporates elements that would seem trite in most situations (the nostalgic-sounding accordion), his unflinching honesty carries the day. This is an artist who placed an unadorned, full-frontal nude shot of himself, a distant Mona Lisa look in his eyes, on the inner art for La Boca del Infierno. Simplicity, honesty, and directness are his language in all respects. His methods work because they are in no way projecting a contrived image, which just makes me love them all the more.
I could go on for longer about Nacimiento, but I feel it’s the sort of thing that works best as a personal experience. If you’ve enjoyed previous Ô Paradis releases, you’ll enjoy this one just as much. If you haven’t had the pleasure, while I always like to recommend starting at or near the beginning, you won’t go wrong choosing this as your first foray. If you aren’t a fan, Nacimiento isn’t likely to change your mind, but you’re probably a soulless meat puppet incapable of any human emotion anyway.
Step away from the ugly world for a few minutes and allow yourself to feel replenished by something of real beauty.
01) La Madre
02) El Findel Mundo
03) Nuestra Estela
06) Las Dulces Memorias
09) El Velo Azul
11) El Padre