El Reino Invisible


Kompakt's Pop Ambient series has always been a labor of love: meticulously curated by Wolfgang Voigt, these releases never showed much interest in any particular style of the day; they followed their own path and established a unique aesthetic. Now, with a dizzying array of musicians trying their hands at beatless electronics, Kompakt introduces the Pop Ambient album series, featuring full-length offerings from top-tier tinkerers in the field. Serving as the glorious first installment is El Reino Invisible, a diverse collection of beautifully rendered synth-scapes from none other than Buenos Aires-bred Pop Ambient staple Leandro Fresco. Famously chosen as one of the best Kompakt releases ever by Michael Mayer, Fresco's 2002 Amor International 12" (KOM 069EP) struck a perfect balance between deeply felt melancholy and light-hearted coziness -- aspects that can be traced back to his '90s outings on Cologne's iconic Traum Schallplatten and the legendary Argentinian imprint Fragil Discos. Fresco has since become a true master of the fine art of sculpting free-flowing sound, a task nearly as impossible as stacking water. With El Reino Invisible, he delivers an enticing and sophisticated narrative of gorgeous synth explorations. It certainly knows its way around pop-infused catchiness, but it also operates as a collection of profoundly personal mnemonics. "This record is a journey inside my feelings... it's emotional ambient music made at an emotional time in my life," says Fresco. However, this commitment to sonic intimacy doesn't necessarily equal a tragic or pained sentiment: "I do not associate this album with feelings of sadness, but with hope, light and the summer heat, full of cyan and orange colors." Proving his point are the soothing, blissful opener "La Edad de Oro," the spacious plucked guitar of "La Herida del Soldado," the splendidly oblivious "Sol de Medianoche," and the title track, a subtle ambient anthem serving as an appropriately wide-eyed coda. Describing the project as a whole, Fresco posits that "the invisible kingdom can be the soul of any person -- music that is true to its origins, as melancholic as the tango in Buenos Aires." Recording in the Argentinian capital and San Martín de los Andes, a small, rural town in Argentinian Patagonia where his parents live, Fresco produced an expertly crafted collection of experimental electronics that are as catchy as they are meditative. Simply put, this is pop ambient at its very best. LP edition pressed on 180-gram vinyl; includes CD.