I have long had a fondness for Demian Recio’s Ô Paradis for his unique and seamless blending of a traditional Spanish format with contrasting modern elements—sometimes electronic, sometimes drifting close to industrial or vaguely “dark,” but never definitively falling into some “alternative” niche. But there is a much simpler reason as well: the abundance of intense, somehow simultaneously subdued and passionate love songs—exhaustively exploring both the beautiful and gruesome aspects of loving and losing. Coming from Spain with its centuries-long tradition of tragic love ballads and extensively utilizing traditional Spanish elements in his music, it is only logical that Ô Paradis would excel in this theme. The intense emotions in his songs—rapidly alternating between joy and despair, fire and cold, gentle and harsh—elevate wallowing in heartbreak to a masochistic art form and make his music supremely easy to relate to.
As one might assume by the image on the cover—an iteration of the traditional Mexican “Catrina” design in which skeletons reenact both gallant and vulgar love scenes—this album is dedicated almost entirely to the perennial love-death connection. The title, which roughly translates to “When Love Arrives, Death Shows Itself,” says as much. “Llega el amor” is a compendium of tormented love songs—the smoke and wine-stained soundtrack to long sleepless nights spent in quiet agony over love that has abruptly disappeared or failed to exist in the first place.
While Llega el amor, asoma la muerte definitely leans a bit more towards the traditional aspect musically with an omnipresent guitar background, each track still features some jarring element: synthetic coldwave undulations, electronic echoes, sharp patches of noise—all serving to accent the otherwise unbearably languid and elegant love-ballad landscape and inject an element of unease into the atmosphere of melancholy reminiscing.
Most of the songs have the distinctive gentle, lullaby-like format Ô Paradis is known for, as if trying to numb the listener’s soul into a state of moroseness—a temporary respite from the rending pain of heartbreak. Lulled by the soothing and calmly sad music, the pain the words speak of all but fades to a memory, remaining ever-present on the margins in the unsettling fluctuations of the melody and the intermittent trembling of the voice.
The album breaks with the pensive, wistful atmosphere around “Llega el amor” and delves into the painful and maddening, as in the titular track where torment becomes audible not only in the tremulous and sometimes discordant notes, but in the singer’s pained, breaking voice. “Dime la verdad” starts out—and continues throughout—in an agitated, uneasy tone, the nervous rhythm permeating it like some cold distorted perversion of a flamenco. In the following track, “Lombrices de tierra,” the album returns to the tranquil and sad motif.
The Spanish language and overall Mediterranean flavor of the music gives Llega el amor, asoma la muerte a feeling of romantic exoticism—perhaps especially to those who, like myself, have only an intermediate grasp of Spanish. While it might be hard to immediately grasp the full meaning of the lyrics, the fragmented understanding itself lends a kind of charm as disjointed passing references to love, death, wind, sea, fire, pain, and sleepless starry nights add to the dreamlike nature of these simultaneously gentle and cruel love songs.
Another recurring theme with Ô Paradis present in this album is the constant references to nature, the ubiquity and number of which seems to imbue the songs with the same peacefulness and calming effect that observing the restless seas and falling stars they speak of has on an aching heart. The also-titular “Asoma la muerte” is a fitting conclusion to the album: a minute-long spoken sample in which a man rambles about the beauty of death much like one would about their infatuation with a new love.
The tenderness and idealized beauty of the past blending with the unspeakable pain and uncertainty of loss—of endlessly ruminating on that loss to create a comatose anesthetizing state of suspended reverie—is what Ô Paradis manages to communicate in his music. Llega el amor, asoma la muerte is an achingly soothing medicine both for those newly beset by love and those bitterly disenchanted by it.
01) Mientras respiras
02) El opio de tu belleza
03) Por el este
04) Llega el amor
05) Dime la verdad
06) Lombrices de terra
07) El misterio del infinito
08) De espaldas al milagro
09) No temo arder
10) Asoma la muerte