Raúl Pastor Medall aka Rauelsson is a Spanish musician sharing his time between Portland, Berlin and Benicassim on the East coast of Spain. Since debuting his career as a folk singer songwriter in the late 2000s, Rauelsson has gradually altered the course of his creative path to focus on a minimalist modern classical, ambient and electronic sound as exemplified by his wonderfully atmospheric Vora for Sonic Pieces in 2013. Released on 25 May 2018 last, Mirall is Rauelsson’s second album for the Berlin-based label.
Since his 2013 release, the musician has featured on two different side projects. Inspired by his 2012 and 2014 tours of Japan, Ekō (2016) is a 10’’ Vinyl EP accompanying a multimedia project for Portland-based label Beacon Sound. And earlier this year, Sonic Pieces released the soundtrack for Danish film “Darling” (2017), a joint collaboration with experimental musician Erik K Skodvin.
If piano, strings and ambient textures have dominated Rauelsson’s modern classical output to date, his most recent release introduces a radical shift. Playing as one long uninterrupted track, Mirall is a rhythmic album replete with omnipresent electronic beats and drum machines alongside acoustic percussions, violin, cello, saxophone and bass clarinet.
The predominance of beats is perhaps largely due to the presence of Finnish experimental drummer Tatu Rönkkö in the “rhythm section”. The musician is renowned for his unusual blend of electronica, tribal experimentations and self-made percussions using everyday objects – Since the early 2010s, his “I Play Your Kitchen” original concept has seen the musician travel around the world to give private and improvised performances in people’s kitchens using any appliances, utensils or surfaces at his disposal. His début album “Spheres” was released earlier this year too. Mirall was mixed and mastered by Nils Frahm who incidentally enlisted Tatu Rönkkö on three tracks of his latest opus “All Melody”.
The presence of saxophone and clarinet, both in rhythmic (“Sierra”), harmonic (“Arrows”) or leading roles (“Cascades” or “Silver Streak”) also reshapes the overall spirit of Mirall.
The record features classically-trained saxophonist Ruth Velten who has already performed and recorded the work of many contemporary composers such as Steve Reich, Pierre Jodlowski or Luciano Berio. She also co-founded Berlin-based contemporary chamber music ensemble LUX: NM which is solely dedicated to the interpretation of new music. Finally, the presence of contemporary classical musician and improviser Claudio Puntin on clarinet and bass clarinet adds colour to the mix.
Introduced and sustained throughout by organ, “Sierra” interweaves a bass clarinet ostinato with violin (Christoph Berg) to stunning effect. And the Hang-driven “Silver Streak” fuses a saxophone loop with percussions. There are more ambient pieces too like the reflective and textured “Mistral” or the piano-led “Marbles”.
Almost like an inverted image of the preceding tracks, Heather Woods Broderick’s acapella song “Map of Mirrors” (which also gives the album its title) brings Mirall to a quiet close.