Album Reviews

Num9 – The Glow-worm’s Resistance

(Acuarela) UK release date: 22 January 2007

Press releases tell writers about a band and its music, yes? Especially if like Num9, they aren’t exactly household names and one can therefore be forgiven for knowing rather little about either.

Num9 is essentially a solo project by Cocque Yturriaga, apparently the successor to Migala, “The group that changed the parameters of indie folk music in Spain.” So far, so good. “Much more poppy than Migala whilst preserving some guitars from its tenebrous period (sic), sometimes as strange as Emak Bahia but much more danceable… Ten tracks of pop slipped in between rhythm and intoxicating dance.” Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Trouble is, I think the Acuarela press officer was listening to another album. There isn’t a single track on this album that I would classify as pop, let alone try to dance to: what it does offer is an intriguing glimpse of what happens when a Spaniard explores the semi-industrial, experimental, sample rich world of arthouse.

The Glow-worm’s resistance has its moments, for example in the (very) brief instrumental Poema De La Resistencia, a soundscape of Spanish samples backed by an insistent drum beat. Another intriguing track samples a BBC announcer introducing a classical concert over organ and rather cheerful blips & bleeps, before adding a Lou Reed style monologue and turning up the rhythm.

There are some tracks that start well but deteriorate rather swiftly – in particular the opener, Perfect. Which isn’t. At over four minutes it’s one of the longest on the album, but a good two-thirds of it consists of the repeated refrain “it’s black and white / and it’s alright”, which gets downright irritating.

There’s one track I seriously don’t recommend after a heavy meal. The Glow-Worm’s Death uses medicinal recordings including what sounds alarmingly like a rumbling stomach (from the inside), before turning into a warped ice-cream van tune as the monitors go off the scale and eventually flatline. Very strange and not altogether pleasant.

Many of the songs are in a slightly disjointed English, and while this is good for accessibility for a non-Spanish audience, the results are not always happy. Some lyrics, rather than producing a poetic effect, sound suspiciously like gibberish. “I tremble in the river’s edge / before you came to care my life / I can’t believe that you’re driving / all the stars with me”. Discuss.

Interesting, even intriguing at times, but not an album that’s going to stay at the top of my play-list.

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Num9 – The Glow-worm’s Resistance