Sound Healing 1:11

Draco Rosa

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Sound Healing 1:11 Review

by Thom Jurek

In 2018, Draco Rosa returned to recording with Monte Sagrado, his first collection of new material in nine years following two battles with cancer. It was a riotous collection of darkly tinged rock songs that meditated alternately on rage, gratitude, and struggle. Sound Healing 1:11 is its companion. Recorded mostly at his home studio during the pandemic, he tuned to sonic frequencies beneficial to the body and heart and wove in natural sounds of birds, rivers, and seas. Rosa handles most instruments, programming, and vocals. Julio Reyes Copello handled the string charts and recorded the Prague Philharmonic performing them.

Set opener "Selva" commences with field-recorded bird and ocean sounds, tribal drum loops, organic and synthetic percussion, and ambient keyboards and effects. It circles around a droning vamp as Rosa sings wordlessly in falsetto framed by a flute. By the time it ends nearly 12 minutes later, the listener emerges in a different mental space. Unfamiliar and even exotic textures frame the musical proceedings here. "Fragancia de Una Flor" commences with that same falsetto gilded by an acoustic piano, subdued percussion, and lilting guitars before Rosa delivers the lyrics: "I trust in times of pain/I trust my innocence/Ours is love/Our love is the fragrance of a flower...." An overtone guitar solo floats through the mix underscoring the meaning in his lines. "Religion of 2" is one of the most haunted breakup songs in Rosa's catalog. Its deep, thrumming tom-toms, wafting synths, and reverb frame a guitar and moaning multi-tracked vocals: "A place where we became accidental lovers/A thousand and one misfortunes we can never undo/Well, here we are/We're a religion of 2/Just, you and me/We're strangers again...." The same production style informs the singing on the single "Quiero Vivir," but it is utilized differently. Strings waft in and out, percussion is pillowy and elegant, the melody tender and wrenching: "I want to live, as I have never lived/Life with God, a cup of light/You and me beyond, beyond love/I'll be there...." A well of emotion drips from Rosa's mouth like honey. Indian guru Sadhguru chants around Rosa's sung lyrics on "Más Allá del Tiempo," an airy ballad illustrated with field-recorded nature and bird sounds, oud, and guitars. Closer "Chateau Marmont," the set's oldest piece, is sparsely textured. It was built from a resonant piano line recorded on an iPhone while bedridden with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He layers in strings, ambient sounds, and a grainy, subdued, yet passionate vocal in English that relates a lyric fraught with desire, longing, and the hope that lost love can be found again. On Sound Healing 1:11, Rosa's lyrics are honest, reflecting spiritual affirmation, loss, and determination. This sonic, elegantly textured mix of organic sounds and instruments with synthetic ones is at once mysterious, multivalent, and exploratory. Despite its experimental nature, this record is direct, tender, and vulnerable, and delivered without a hint of artifice. More, please, and soon.

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