We are all familiar with the emotions of our new world. Many of us are feeling alienated and negative. In a time like this, nothing is more important than finding crystallised moments of honesty, compassion and familiarity. West End local Sanfeliu’s debut album Flores-Colores presents a heartfelt acknowledgment of this reality. Deftly weaving warm acoustic melodies with striking synthesisers, Sanfeliu brings it all together with a lyrical style of personal intimacy and unexpected humour that gives Flores-Colores a sense of deep contemplation.
The album begins with Eso Es Todo, the rolling pianos and rhythmic percussion giving it a lush, summery vibe that is contrasted artfully with the more plaintive note of the chorus. Here we get our first taste of their voice, a deep, layered sound with earnest overtones, perfectly suited to the Spanish of this first track.
The humorous and campy second track Septiembre (which possesses an almost soundtrack-like quality) leads into One Long Winter, a reflection on the mundane and the wait for something life-changing. Beneath the dramatic and orchestral string overtones lie intricate melodies, slipping effortlessly from the standard time of the first two tracks into a skipping ¾ rhythm. Sanfeliu extends their unique humour to the instrumentation, and the lyrics and the startlingly nostalgic note of the Nokia-inspired chorus tug at memories we all have, and a feeling of expected disappointment achingly familiar in our COVID reality. Is the phone ringing at all?
Flores-Colores finest moments come in the fourth song, Sound and Vision. The lyrics hold a fundamentally inspiring note of personal reflection and vulnerability, thematically biographical and stirringly relatable. The vocals provided by Alison St Ledger really add to the song; the sample providing a perfect note to accompany Matthew Malone’s percussion and Sanfeliu’s “electroacoustique” style of production. In these pieces of instrumentation there is a bone-shaking drive which suits the call of the lyrics with an almost puzzle-piece perfection. This song is just unbelievably good.
Sanfeliu reveals their yoga bona-fides with the next track, Morno Yoga, asking why two things as inherently spiritual as music and yoga should not be more heavily intertwined. My utter lack of bodily flexibility and frazzled state of mind suggest I should be pursuing more activities like this, but my true joy was at the subtle electro hints throughout, adding to the sense of ambience that builds over the course of the track, a sense of natural space created with unnatural care and precision.
While Sound and Vision took its place as my favourite song, Melancholy Lovers mounted a serious challenge. Sanfeliu’s fat synthesiser saw-wave drives this song seemingly to an apocalyptic end, and their voice truly shines here, taking a natural care on the high notes, and imbuing the low with a distinct menace. This song is anachronistic in the most striking fashion, with Sanfeliu weaving the ancestral piano with its upstart nephew, the synthesiser, the piano cutting through like the only realistic point in a world devoid of reality, and the synth looming over everything else like a thundercloud.
Pursuit poses a well timed thematic callback to the early tracks, a familiar memory twisted and distorted into something new by the masterful synth lines carving their neon paths among the distinctive rhythmic piano. The care Sanfeliu has put into the order of these songs is abundantly clear, fitting for an album they see as an array of beautiful flowers, carefully cultivated and arranged.
The album ends with Greater Beauty. The upbeat strings seem almost like a reminder that something special and new can always come along, even on the last song of the album. The last flower in the row. Here is a note of pure optimism, and advice that is pertinent to us all right now. As Sanfeliu sings, ‘Open your eyes. Listen to different folks. Be here and now with those around you, for they are with you too’.
You can purchase the album on Bandcamp – here https://sanfeliu.bandcamp.com/album/flores-colores
Sanfeliu, is an electro-acoustic troubadour of Catalan descent, currently based in Meanjin / Brisbane. Sanfeliu writes, teaches and performs delving into different musical traditions (pop classical, hispanic) and explores their place in collective and affective memory.