Back to zero is the debut album by Sequential Point, the contemporary electronic band formed by Adrián García, Fran Estévez and Verónica Díaz. Based on the island of Tenerife (Spain), their offer is one of the most interesting in the Spanish electronic scene, for what it means of giving up the traditional forms of space-music and analog sounds, and rejection of the more danceable electronic music. Sequential Point has found its vital space, its market niche in the dark zone of the adult, complex, organic electronic music.
The album opens, literally, with Forest fire. The voice of Verónica builds a repetitive and unrelaxing lullaby, with some references to M83. This is not a piece of work that’s going to produce beautiful dreams. The arpeggios, bass and drums create the atmosphere that holds the theme, and the absence of catchy melodies is going to be a constant characteristic until the end.
The second theme, Western wind, starts with a powerful piano sequence and a broken drum line that gives it dynamism. The disturbing tone remains and little by little the piano goes down and pure contemporary electronic takes its place with sequences and effects, in a delicious musical evolution.
Opportunity was the single introducing the album. It’s a vocal theme, but lyrics are more hypnotic than descriptives. The voice of Verónica and the ultimately trip-hop rythm bring us reminiscences of Hooverphonics. The attention that Sequential Point pays to the details shows here in the surrounding games of panoramization and the minimalistic treatment of the voice.
New vibrations brings back the references to M83’s ‘Dead cities, read seas & lost ghosts’ or even to Para One’s ‘Naissance de Puivres’, although a bit more inclined to glitch electronic.The bass and drums set, more acoustic in this theme, get all the importance. Near the end, they surprise us with interesting vocal effects in the more pure Enigma’s ‘A posteriori’ style.
The splintered everythings is probably the most experimental theme in the album, a disturbing ambient piece over sensual vocal effects, that works as a bridge to Winter Solstice, which is the ‘romantic’ piece in the album: harp and voice forms the more melodic bond we’re going to find in the whole. Here Verónica transforms into a fairy that moans singing from a stream’s edge in a forest. The tone of the theme, the instrumentation, the style… everything sounds like medieval heritage from Pyramide. It could be said that it breaks the trip-hop style of the rest of the themes, but we can forgive it because of its beauty and appreciate a haven of peace and simplicity.
Blue song is another vocal theme. Although the voice is digitally treated, it’s not soften at all: it’s rough and nearly agressive, in accordance with the theme’s hypnotic cadence. In Back to zero there are no concessions to a tempting pop tag. This is avant-garde electronic and assumes all the consequences.
Follows Altair, a dark theme that takes its time to boot up, but gains power when it does. The arpeggios and sequences from Forest fire are back, like the constant changes in rythm that break the theme, giving it dynamism and variety. So nothing is missing, they introduce a light touch of ethnicity in the voices.
Silken nightmares comes later. This is a another ambient and experimental theme, in the line of The splintered everythings, although towards the end it makes an attempt of development that remains truncated. It would have been a better option to fade this theme into the next.
The syncopated rythm of Change takes the listener to inevitably move the head. The base piano reminds of the more melancholic Moby, the one from ‘One of these mornings’, but filtered through an urban filter. The ambient noises in the beginning and the end are like brackets that enclose the music, taking it away from the rest and from the flow of the album.
If Winter Solstice is the romantic theme, then Distan mountains is the epic one. Although in the universe of Sequential Point the idea of epic is far from luminous. This theme is a good summary of the whole album: affected electronics, variable rythms with predominance of trip-hop and IDM, barely defined melodies against a major relevance of atmospheres. We could be mistaken with Aes Dana and forget that Sequential Point doesn’t come from Scandinavia.
To finish, Back to zero, the theme that gives name to the album, is a short piano piece, minimal, wrapped in sonic effects, very ambient and melancholic. It is as if they were telling us about the memory of something passed and finished, as if they wanted to express that every going back, to zero, means giving something up.
Sequential Point has taken care of the minimun sonic details with a caress unlikely in commercial electronic music. Back to zero is not an easy-listening work that might be quickly forgotten. It takes its time, you have to let it settle, and come back later, you have to investigate it with a glass, accept its propositions without prejudices or preconceived ideas. Their themes overflow with references, conscious or not, but the band make them theirs and integrate them in a proposal that demands from the listener something more than a passive listening. And this is the best that can be expected from an album of good electronic music.
Listen to Opportunity: