VA: Pero es olor en el cuarto del piano fue el primer perfume que necesitó en su vida
Si No Puedo Bailar, No Es Mi Revolución

Don't let the ridiculously unwieldy title Pero es olor en el cuarto del piano fue el primer perfume que necesitó en su vida (But that smell in the piano's room was the first perfume he needed in his life) put you off. The brainchild of Brazilian collective Si no puedo bailar, no es mi revolución, the seventy-three-minute compilation functions as an imaginary soundtrack to the Peruvian novel A World for Julius with Gustavo Gialuca's playful artwork a complementary tribute to the book's contents. Organized into chapters, the album offers nineteen electropop variations by Latin American artists (specifically Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Spain) wherein melodicas, synthesizers, pianos, glockenspiels, guitars, vocals, strings, and drum machines unite in blissful union. Think of it as a Múm and F.S. Blumm mixture with small bits of New Order and Cocteau Twins added for extra seasoning.

Certain tracks stand out as obvious highlights, such as Souvlaki's “Sonatine,” which inaugurates the album with shimmering fields of radiant guitar lattices, and Balún's gorgeous “Snol,” a jubilant dance of reverb-soaked guitars and poppy synthesizer melodies that blossoms into a blissful field of sunlit melodies and whispered vocals. Though Argentinean composer Juan Stewart weighs in with the longest track (“Si hay bulla no hay futbolín”), the song itself is so breezy in spirit and melodically infectious it never feels overlong. Throughout its nine minutes, pianos and guitars sweetly commingle over a driving drum pattern that grows ever more robust with each passing second. In “Juguete de navidad,” Felipe Moreno contributes a remarkable mallet-instrument-based set-piece that can't help but call to mind Philip Glass (in its organ patterns) and most obviously Steve Reich. Carrie's lovely “1981” briefly pushes the album into Lali Puna territory while imi's “Pequeño forastero (pueblos)” sprinkles some country dust over its jaunty electropop. Lise and 3antena bring respective samplings of electropop sparkle (“Sinara Aïssatou”) and synth-heavy head-nod (“Extraño esas praderas”), and Arturo en el barco and Jög add a more serious side with their melodramatic, string-heavy evocations (“Candy Tucker,” “El primer día”). Credible contributions come from Posnormal, Polaroyd, Caramelitus, Sintecoraz, and La rainbow toy orchestra as well.

Though the artists' styles are often contrasting—sometimes subtly—the album coheres into a satisfying whole on account of the jubilant spirit that buoys most of the songs. If by album's end, you're none the wiser about the novel's narrative, relax: the album's sonic pleasures establish themselves strongly, even in the absence of that understanding.

November 2008