After a string of accomplished yet elusive records, Luis Alberto Spinetta is back to his legendary best with Un Mañana, his most compelling album since 1999's Los Ojos. On paper, there is little in Un Mañana to set it apart from Spinetta's recent productions, such as Para los Árboles and Pan. As usual, it was conceived and recorded in the intimacy of his home studio, with the time-honored support of his friends and family, and employing the choice services of a handful of likeminded musicians. The entire album was recorded analog and live in the studio by Spinetta and his current band of Claudio Cardone, Sergio Verdinelli, and Nerina Nicotra, with only three special guests, guitarists Baltasar Comotto, Nicolás Ibarburu, and Sartén Asaressi, each contributing solos to different tracks. The songs -- which at this point can only be described as Spinettian -- continue familiar travels through a complex yet haunting universe of free-flowing melodies and structures, jazz-rock textures, and moving lyricism. Nonetheless, everything that in the previous records seemed slightly blurred comes -- as if magically -- to a sharper focus here, making Un Mañana an immediately memorable experience for Spinetta fans, particularly for those most fond of his Spinetta Jade period.
Certainly, it may not be the best introduction to the artist, as latter-day Spinetta is as defiantly oblivious to fashionable trends as one can get. For the initiated, however, this album is a thing of pure beauty more than a much-awaited return to form. Indeed, songs such as "No Quiere Decir," "Hiedra al Sol," and "Mi Elemento" are as gorgeous as anything Spinetta has ever written or sung in his absurdly extraordinary 40-year career. Although not made explicit in any of the songs, Un Mañana is largely inspired by a tragic school bus accident that took the lives of several classmates of Spinetta's daughter, as acknowledged in the liner notes and dedication. As such, the spirit of these "songs of pain and hope," as Spinetta describes them, perfectly embodies the quintessential message of the artist: a resilient, never obvious, unspeakably beautiful, life-affirming stance in the face of all horrors and adversity. While Un Mañana is nothing but a dignified, even solemn, piece of music, its irregular cover design mischievously recalls that of Spinetta's 1973 masterpiece, Artaud: shaped as a parallelogram, it is sure to give music stores a headache, as it will not fit into any standard CD shelf. A resounding critical success, Un Mañana was re-released in late 2008 as a CD/DVD Deluxe Edition that added a few video clips from the album, the previously unavailable song "Farol de Amor," and a "making of" documentary of the recording. Un Mañana won five Argentine music industry awards, including the Gardel de Oro for album of the year, and was also nominated for a Latin Grammy.