La Sangre Iluminada
InFiné releases typically possess a strong beat-based dimension, which makes Fernando Corona's Murcof release, La Sangre Iluminada, an exception to the general rule (Corona's association with InFiné goes back to 2007 when he was put in charge of post-production for Francesco Tristano's Not For Piano album). But such a development is rendered understandable once one realizes that the release is a soundtrack of sorts Corona composed for the film of the same name directed by Ivan Duenas in 2009—of sorts, because the InFiné release is a re-edited and re-mastered version of the soundtrack (the new release has exactly the same tracklist as the original, except for the fact that tracks one and two have been merged to form “Sangre y Mateo”). The film tells the story of six characters who mutate into new bodies yet nevertheless retain strong connections to their past lives, making nostalgia and loss key aspects of the film content. The narrative moves from one character to the next in tandem with Corona's themes, essentially becoming leitmotifs in the process.
The first detail one notices is that the recording includes no long-form Murcof settings; instead, the forty-minute album features twenty short pieces, some little more than half-minute cameos. That doesn't, however, prevent Corona from creating music that's any less textured than usual, just that it doesn't allow for gradual buildups. The pieces are snapshots, then, but prototypically Murcof-like in their brooding and portentous character. That indexed breakdown can be a tad misrepresentative of the actual listening experience, too, as similarly titled tracks—“Hugo I” and “Hugo II,” for example, or the four “Eugenio” pieces—flow into one another without interruption, thereby making the album more like ten tracks rather than twenty. Those familiar with Corona's previous Murcof output will recognize how naturally his work lends itself to a soundtrack treatment. It's become standard practice to refer to such work as cinematic, but in this case the term applies, as the material, which holds up perfectly well as a stand-alone listen, is thoroughly capable of creating corresponding visual imagery to the sounds themselves. Many pieces are brooding settings scored for piano, shuddering strings, and ambient textures, and the creak and groan of bowed violin acts as a recurring motif in many a track.
Though the material is often beatless, there are a few occasions where rhythms do surface. An animated pulse gives “Paloma IV” a momentum absent in most of the other pieces, though no one should get the idea that the track is therefore club material as it's as brooding as the rest of the album. Electronic micro-beats of the kind heard on Murcof's non-soundtrack material appear during “Soriano II,” though again they don't pull the material out of the soundtrack's chosen sound world. The penultimate “Isaias IV” rises to a level of grandeur that suggests it accompanies a climactic moment in the film. In addition, the closing “Como Quisiera Decirte (Murcof Mix),” a melancholy ballad graced by a passionate vocal turn, is the song that's most unlike the others, but that's because it's Corona's treatment of a song performed by Los Angeles Negros. La Sangre Iluminada is obviously not a typical Murcof album in the Martes or Remembranza sense yet is still a satisfying one. In this case, he's managed to adapt his music to certain soundtrack conventions without sacrificing the essence of his signature sound in the process.