Heart Beats Slow
LP version. Includes CD. Music as catharsis: a Portuguese artist is driven into an existential crisis by the economic woes of his country, and cascades of electronica show him the way out. Something about Mira, un Lobo! strikes a poetic nerve in the mavens of our time -- US blogger Kavit Sumud (The Sights and Sounds, Indie Shuffle) is inspired by the project's "complex electronica, cascading circadian rhythms . . . serotonin streams and dopamine dancefloors." UK blog Repeat Button marvels at the "unbelievably, inexplicably, insanely intoxicating" work, with "synths so sublime I feel like maybe heaven is actually here on earth." Once in a while, an album comes along that has the capacity to inspire such elegies. Great art is often born of hard times and the celestial splendor thus described is very much a product of life on terra firma. Portuguese artist Luis F. de Sousa knows the harsh realities of life only too well, as he recounts: "Struck by unemployment, crises and depression, we live in hiding, numb, under our sheets, hoping and trying our best to sleep and forget. Mira, un Lobo! allowed me to drift away whilst still being awake, facing adversity, oblivious of any consequences." Such cathartic intensity mirrors the influence of artists like Sigur Rós, M83, Julianna Barwick, and Sufjan Stevens. As befits such a personal album, de Sousa wrote and recorded the songs at home, alone, unencumbered by schedules or deadlines. What began as a musical diary evolved almost subliminally into a full-fledged album. At this point, de Sousa called up several of his gifted friends -- "to smooth the edges," as he puts it. Ricardo Fialho co-produced the album, with de Sousa's former MAU bandmates helping out on guitars (Carlos Costa) and backing vocals (Eli Fernandes). And, as de Sousa reveals, one more very special guest also makes an appearance on the album: "I used my son's voice from when he was a baby on one song." What better way to give a voice to innocence, to new beginnings? In spite of the nearly crippling uncertainties of the current economic climate, which has hit Portugal to such visceral effect, Heart Beats Slow offers hope that a better future may not be beyond reach. Not so much blind escapism as pragmatic perspective, highlighting art's potential for rejuvenation and replenishment.