Damiak: Micalavera

Abe Dichi (aka Damiak) has spent his life moving between Mexico, Europe, and the United States (he's currently residing in San Francisco ) so perhaps it shouldn't surprise too much that his debut album Micalavera (‘my skeleton,' roughly translated) reveals an equally broad multitude of styles and sounds. Throughout the electroacoustic collection, Dichi puts his piano, violin, and guitar training to good effect but complements that with melodica, glockenspiel, field recordings, drums, and electronic sounds.

The album balances aggressive (like a marriage of post-rock and shoegaze, “Tepid Coat” slowly builds in intensity while “Faificun” is bolstered by an impassioned drum punch and scalding electric guitars) with low-key moments (like the delicate outro “Cualidades” and “Iridescent Wings,” a heavily-processed construction of bright glimmerings and meditative tones). Dichi's strong melodic gifts are effectively displayed, and in its rich sonic palette and melancholy compositional emphasis, Micalavera often resembles a vocal-less Múm (“Tenuous Gears,” “Extended Slide”), as both groups share a penchant for creaky rhythms and broad, even eccentric instrumental colour. Uniting those two stylistic tendencies, “Step Behind the Yellow Line” could pass for a Tortoise-Múm collaboration, and is distinguished by Dichi's powerful drumming. Even better is “Tall Hat Greeting,” a particularly affecting foray into wide-screen, post-rock territory, which is rendered most memorable when the sweetly melancholy cry of a melodica sings out over a surging base of rollicking drums and vibraphone patterns.

July 2007