One of the greatest things about working on this site occurs when, out of nowhere, we come in contact with some unknown, unheralded artist, often unsigned and totally independent, who offers us a chance to listen to their pure music for review. There have been numerous times when this has occurred: a random and seemingly innocuous email or message appears from an artist, inviting us to listen to their music, and when we check out their website or Myspace or receive their CD in the mail, we are blown away by the passion, intensity, creativity and beauty of the music. Artists that stand out to me in such situations are: the haunting and eerily majestic St. Mary’s, the whimsical and pristine RF & Lili de Mora, and the understated musicianship of Raymond Scott Woolson, who’ve all gone on to become Somewhere Cold favourites after their initial contact with us.
I’m beginning to think that Music for Films is going to be in the same category of these rare artists. Music for Films is the solo ambient/drone project of Hector Mojena, a Hialeah, FL-based guitarist who, like others before, recently contacted us to listen to his 2007 EP Somewhere. I know Hialeah well, having extended family living in the area and being myself originally from South Florida. I’m familiar with the distinctly Latino feel of the community, and the ways that, depending on where in the community one lives, the flight paths of jets landing at or taking off from Miami’s busy airport shake the stucco homes. I imagine Mojena, enveloped by the throbbing beats of reggaeton, salsa, meringue, and bachata poring in from the streets, huddled in his garage or bedroom studio, endlessly experimenting with guitar sounds and effects. Maybe the room is hot, humid, filled with the fragrant tropical air of Florida; maybe the room is dark, lit by candles or a solitary pale white light. Maybe Mojena fights with his audio equipment as it picks up the sound of not-so-distant jets and those ever-present rhythms, ever filtering out the sounds of the outside world to create inner journeys for the listener. Maybe Mojena is a tortured artist of sorts, striving to create ambience and drone in a restless Southern culture more in tune with Bass and crunk music than dreamy compositions. Is he creating in completely solitary and isolated conditions, pursuing his dream misunderstood and underappreciated by his friends and family? Maybe Mojena is none of these, but it’s fun to concoct such narratives about his mysterious and dark ambient recording. Mojena even sent a hard copy of his EP under unassumed and somewhat mysterious conditions, with a simple CD-R containing a small note attached that states, “the music should speak for itself”, thereby unwittingly promoting a sense of intrigue around his music. Whatever the case, Somewhere’s menacing and thick drones certainly do speak for themselves, and herald Music for Films as an artist worthy of attention.
Somewhere begins with the roaring “250 Knots”. On this track, thick syrupy distorted drones coat over a slow-moving and subtle fragment of a melody. The sonics that Mojena is able to craft on the track are instantly impressive, showing a true attention to detail and composition. “Never Be The Same” follows, with its gentler approach to atmosphere. Chiming, almost bell-like guitars ring out a solemn calling to the listener. The track is followed by “Somewhere Safe”, whose windy-sounding layers are reminiscent of the kinds of sounds heard on Hammock’s Sleepover Series project. For just over 9 minutes, Mojena subtly manipulates gorgeous wisps of sounds that organically ebb and flow over the listener. The short but ethereal “Above” then leads into the slow-building “Blue Steam”, which features an evolving approach to drones that gradually gives way to Mojena’s strongest melody yet, a forlorn liquid guitar line that meanders gracefully.
Overall, Somewhere is an impressive introduction to, (if Mojena can filter out my imagined contradictions and distractions) what should amount to a gratifying project for listeners. Music for Films plays alternately soothing and unsettling music that is well-produced, patiently-crafted, and skilfully played. What a gift for it is for an artist like Mojena, as much as he toils away in obscurity, to share his passionate music with listeners, offering it for us to hear, and allowing us to craft our own stories around it. Music for Films is an apt name for the project, or even the more cumbersome Music for Imagination, as his music as led me, at least, to all sorts of interesting inner journeys. Somewhere is a powerful exploration of the subtleties of the ambient genre, and, indeed, on this EP, “the music speaks for itself”…