erasing clouds

Mus, Divina Lluz and Fai

reviewed by dave heaton

The Spanish duo Mus play minimalist lullabies in the key of gentle, with singer Monica Vacas's voice slowing down your heartbeat while gorgeous guitars and piano wrap themselves around you. It's comforting music, especially so on their latest album Divina Lluz, which is absolutely spellbinding and beautiful. But as with much of the prettiest music, at the heart of these songs is a deep sadness. Start with the first song's lyrics, with a line that translates in English to "And I began to walk with a shard of glass wedged in my soul." These songs are sad in a much deeper sense than your usual 'crying in your beer' type-song. They deal with death and deep, overwhelming loneliness; take, for example, the words of the traditional song "Sola" that they cover, the last of which translate to "And alone I must stay/until the world comes to an end". And you don't need the lyrics to get the contemplation of dark and unbearable feelings; it's in the music. The genius of Mus, besides their music's surface-level beauty (which is pleasurable enough to make any of their albums worth buying), is the way they entwine a peaceful state of contemplation with absolute fear and sadness. The two become one in their songs, you feel calmly gratified even as you feel desperate and alone.

Listening to Divina Lluz side by the side with the reissue of Mus' 1999 debut album Fai gives a clear sense of the way that they've so brilliantly taken their abstract, dreamy tendancies and internalized them within sharply wrought, minimalist pop songs. Fai shows a Mus more into diving headlong into atmosphere over conventional songwriting, though there's still beautiful melodies here. This album is more in the vein of Mus's 2001 contribution to Darla's Bliss Out series, Aida, than of Divina Lluz or 2002's lovely El Naval. That is, it's more instrumental and more overtly trippy. It's perhaps not as complex but just as engaging, perfect music for dreaming.


Issue 23, May 2004

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