“Historial de Caidas Remastered”
A series of misapprehensions tie me up to this record. The first time I read about José Manuel Cerda, I thought that a homonymous colleague, expert in Middle Ages History, had decided to unveil an unknown musical side. After downloading Doble ola EP, I thought this was his first album, strongly recommended by Richi Tunacola (“one of my Desert Island Discs”). That was the work I wholeheartedly agreed to review (“I love it”, I doubtlessly replied) and that, when I started listening to it, I wasn’t able to recognize it at all. I headed towards my 30-year-old list of cassettes and compact discs to confirm this was the first time I listened to Historial de caídas, indeed.
I’m aware of this unforgivable confusion in an era we are able to check almost every data on the music we listen to, unlike the 80s, when most of the times we thought the name of a band to be the name of a solo artist or an album, or that Rick Astley’s voice belonged to an unmistakably African-American singer instead of a pale, red-headed fellow. But these interferences and entanglements may also belong to a time when, in a couple of minutes, we are able to download a catalog it would have taken years to complete otherwise, a time when we listen to such an amount of songs it is almost impossible for us to learn their lyrics by heart.
I’m starting to think it’s a mistake to mention all of this, for I suppose José Manuel Cerda is much younger than I am. Wrong again: we are the same age. Maybe this is not a mistake. Maybe the beauty of a collection called Historial de caídas (Tumbling Records) is, precisely, the vindication of error, diversion, and failure, trying to find a room and meaning for all of them. And this is the very gesture reinforced by this new release: at a time when the whole world around seems to collapse, not just our little lives, the traces of light these compositions offer resonate in a paradoxically hopeful manner.
This is also a self-reflective memory exercise of an album that turns out to be ten years old, but also the samples’ contained coming from long ago. I ask José Manuel, (although I’m not sure to call him by his real name, or El sueño de la casa propia, or Bruxista), about some of the audio references. He mentions Michael Jackson, The Flaming Lips, Nelly Furtado, David Bowie, Shellac, among other FLAC files inside a folder: “they were not just favorites, there were also rarities or mainstream pop records, raw material for extracting meaningful loops to construct a sonic building around, according to what they suggested”. These buildings, by the way, resemble Neto Iturrieta’s collage structure used as a cover for the first release, their elements flexibly and precariously combined, like an ephemeral piece of architecture.
If I’ve listened to Historial de caídas in 2010, I may have indulged in comparisons with other cratedigging/cut ‘n’ paste masters, such as The Books, but now I pay much more attention to some of the tracks tribal power, rhythms almost flirting with our very own cueca. I think the “latinamerican” label sounds kinda cliché, but it may properly apply here. I’m still listening to it on a cold, silent morning, through a spring afternoon, interrupted from time to time by a neighbor’s drill. Maybe that drill could be sampled. This makes me think about what would happen if we heard it coming through this record. And I listen to it once again, till becoming one of my Desert Island Discs.
(Santiago, Chile. Octubre / October 2020)
English version by Gerardo Figueroa.