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Reviews Album cover: Irian Carballosa / Design: Pepe Menéndez. Album cover: Irian Carballosa / Design: Pepe Menéndez.

Songs for Shadows / White Noise

A plastic arts teacher taught me, in one of my (unsuccessful) attempts to learn the chiaroscuro technique, that no color is more intense than shadows. Although sometimes sharper and sometimes unfathomably dark, these always appear, as a product of light bordering on our contours.

A dissected shadow on an empty background: the cover of Ruido Blnco's first LP, Songs for ShadowsIt is a statement of intent. The indie rock group from Havana, after a long period of recording, production and self-promotion, published their debut feature; an album whose central axis is a survey of the dark counterpart of our people. 

When in 2019 they released the single my ghosts, the band laid the foundations for an aesthetic influenced by artists such as Zoé, Vetusta Morla, Fito Páez and Izal. As outstanding students of the local alternative scene, White Noise understands that a group is a living entity; it must have its own forms, a discourse that characterizes it beyond how much it allows itself to mutate on its very essence. And, based on that idea, they decided to create an album with everything they had learned from their first compositions.

Songs for Shadows it's a Rare avis within alternative music in Cuba: coherent both musically and lyrically, it builds its sound universe through lyrics that are more suggested than explicit, accompanied by a prolific musical production brimming with textures, thanks, in part, to the hand Republica Records expert. 

Marcos González, vocalist and director of the group, constantly resorts to images to the detriment of direct language; here the form is much more attractive than the content. Obviously, the lyrics encrypt perceived meanings without digging too hard; but these matter little if we compare them with sensations induced by fragments like “an apple bites your mouth” (change) or “promises of moisture / they stain your skin” (The resistance).

The ambiguity reinforces the universal character of its themes. bad kisses, for example, refers us to those moments in which we are victims of temptation, but each verse, far from being coherently integrated with the rest, reconstructs a particular scenario. Perhaps that is why many fans of the group wonder who is that Alejandra referenced in the homonymous theme of the album. The insertion of a proper name contrasts and invites to map hidden messages. Accept the mystery! I would suggest one of the Coen Brothers characters.

Songs for Shadows, although essentially rocker, is torn between the over drive of his guitars and a very marked pop rock sensibility in Nothing happens, what a way to be broken or tear out the song. Although I have to admit that they are not the tracks that I enjoy the most, they bring other colors without the need for concessions.

The energy of his guitars stands out (with one of the best achieved sounds for this instrument in a locally made production), supported by a precise rhythm section and without excessive flourishes. White noise travels down paths barely explored in Cuban rock through a well-conducted marriage between strength and catchy melodies. Each song unfolds in a maelstrom of synthesized textures and guitar arrangements, panned in all directions, loaded with delayed and reverb.

bad kisses and America they break the record at times. The acoustic guitar that serves as an introduction to bad kisses Inevitably, due to its cadence and dark tone, it is reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age. America, on the other hand, and as its title betrays, redirects us to a tangible phenomenon, advocating unity and the awakening of a regional conscience.

change it's formulaic in its arrangement of subtle verses/explosive choruses, but takes advantage of that structural simplicity to become one of the most energetic of the set. Songs for Shadows, the cut that gives the album its title, stands out for Marcos' voice that, instead of doing what is obvious and rising in the choruses, remains tenuous and indifferent to the intention of the rest of the instrumental, which conveys estrangement and alienation, very much in keeping with with your letter. 

A The resistance and The fall They are united by an almost cinematographic character, which invites us to imagine stories capable of fitting into their most symbolic moments: from post-apocalyptic worlds to dystopian societies. While The resistance is more direct and advances to a post punk march, The fall open with him riff most memorable of the entire album and recreates landscapes broken by the passage of time.

Also readWhite noise. Photo: Lucy Gmorell.
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Does White Noise dream of sleeping machines?

Lorena Sánchez03.12.2021

The album, from the limits imposed by a conventional rock format, manages to exploit all its possibilities. However, and although the result is cohesive (and is appreciated), it would have been interesting if not all the songs were assumed from such similar philosophies in production; allow that, without altering the discourse of the album, each one had a particular flavor. 

The low passions, the reluctance to change, the masks and traumas inhabit that other half of us embodied in Songs for Shadows, an authentic oasis in the national rock scene. With solemnity, but without celebration, White Noise tries to deal with the irremediably dark projection of our surroundings.

Carlos Quiroga Carlos D. Quiroga Morejon “Guitarrero” and serial doodler. Raccoon worshiper. I dream of writing my own Murder Ballads. More posts

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