The resonance of reflection

Experimental artist Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s new album released Feb. 10, “A Year With 13 Moons,” is not comprised of songs, and to say so would be to do the album a great injustice. Each track is a surreal exploration of the connection between sound and story. Ledesma’s compositions create an entirely new reality in which listeners are suspended in a fluid of collective memory – a hazy place where life’s processes feel more important than the finished product.

Ledesma’ began his musical career in 1996 as a member of the band Tarantel. Since his initial musical debut, he has been involved in more than 70 musical releases under 10 different names, including both collaborative projects and solo efforts. Though genres differ from project to project, Ledesma always fuses a dreamlike quality into whatever he creates, and listeners may consider “A Year With 13 Moons” his most enrapturing release to date.

According to Ledesma’s record label, Mexican Summer, the new album was crafted using various sound bytes Ledesma recorded over a span of two years after separating from his wife. He used a reel-to-reel tape player to document the noise of his daily activities, recording while he cooked, drove, visited the beach and everything in between. The resulting atmosphere is breathtaking and nebulous. Each track balances effortlessly on the line between omnipotence and intimacy – specific enough to conjure a sense of nostalgia, but open-ended enough to allow the listener to interpret the compositions through the lens of their own experiences.

The works featured on the album range from 49 seconds to nearly nine minutes in length; however, they are so thick with aural layers that the differences in duration are hardly noticeable. Tracks like “Interiors” and “Remains,” both of which are under two minutes long, leave just as much of an impression on the listener as “The Last Time I Saw Your Face,” the lengthy introductory number.

Ledesma ties the record together with a mesmerizing and distorted foundation of electric guitar, drum machines and modulated synthesizers, but that isn’t to say that any part of “13 Moons” is predictable or easy to pin down. “Görlitzer Park,” for example, resembles a cryptic transmission from a parallel but unreachable plane of existence – static bleeds into a noise like the chirping of birds in the background of a shaky home movie. That contrasts with the following track, “Along the Isar,” which maintains a more hopeful, shimmering quality.

Another notable composition is “A Portrait of You At Nico’s Grave, Grunewald, Berlin.” It moves like an overture by György Ligeti, building upon itself until the listener is enveloped by a veritable cave of otherworldly tones and vibrations.

Overall, “A Year With 13 Moons” is a universal album because Ledesma built it not around his specific memories, but around the essence of memory itself. Listening to each piece is like attempting to recall a dream right as its slips through fingers – no concrete images, just foggy echoes of color, sensation and sound.

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