Allá – Es Tiempo

Es Tiempo

Es Tiempo, Allá’s (Ayê-ya) four-years-in-the-making debut record, comes from Chicago by way of about one-hundred other places. Chi-Town, of course, and then there’s Sweden, whose Tambourine Studios housed the recording of some of the album’s tracks. Mexico’s all around, too, particularly traditional Mexican trio music in sound and the Mexican-American immigrant experience in subject. Oh, and don’t forget Brazil, what with all the Tropicalian flourishes the disc sports. Then, let’s cross seas and pick up some of the constancy and experimentation of Germany’s krautrock. So on, so on… Its liner notes could be a passport.

Allá is Lupe Martinez and brothers Jorge and Angel Ledezma, the former of whom did all the production work on this self-financed album. And, oh, how terrific Jorge’s production is, with electronic embellishments seamlessly layered over acoustic counterparts. Studio wonderwork has Martinez’s serene voice harmonizing wordlessly with itself in “Tú Y Yo.” “Es Tiempo” starts out a bit like a pocket-sized version of Boredoms’ Vision Creation Newsun. “Un Pedazo” sounds like Brian Wilson collaborating with Air, and the results are every bit as symphonic and sexy as one would expect. There’s an intricacy to the arrangements here you’re lucky to find in similarly homegrown records.

Underneath the glimmer of the sound, though, there are some real problems. In Spanish, Allá discuss inner-city living, Chicano reality in America, and other cultural concerns. Even if you don’t understand the words, there often appears a desperate undercurrent in Martinez’s voice that provides the contours of struggle.

If anything, this is an album without place (or maybe just so full of them that one can’t really predominate). Allá pivot, paradoxically, around the lack of a tangible center, this pan-geographical meld reflecting a cultural intermixture that’s of growing importance as the world’s timelines continue to converge. This is a music without borders, somehow still shawled in the harmonic lightness of pop. With such a large cluster of influence here, it becomes your, the listener’s, duty to yank Es Tiempo down from the ether and situate it, listen-to-listen. You come to possess it and it finds a home each time.