Nad Spiro, Tinta Invisible

Nad Spiro is Spanish electronica artist Rosa Arruti, and this is her third album. I was very taken with her 2000 début, Nad Spiro vs. Enemigos de Helix (reviewed in The Sound Projector 9), but Tinta Invisible is, I’m sorry to report, weak and uninvolving by comparison.

Arruti’s principal instrument is the guitar, which she subjects to heavy processing and sequencing. The resultant sounds tend towards the minimal and abstract, with occasional vocal interjections woven into the mix. Arruti’s voice is warm and seductive, but it can’t prevent many of the songs from coming across as sterile and cerebral exercises in sound manipulation.

“Soundhouse” and the title track both sound as though they have attractive melodies struggling to be heard, so it’s frustrating to hear them being denied room to flourish amid a plethora of deconstructive strategies. “Obauba,” meanwhile, is subtitled “Lullaby,” but if I wanted to soothe my son off to sleep I certainly wouldn’t play him this array of juddering bass sounds and twitchy electronic effects.

There are only two pieces here that recall the sparkling energy of Arruti’s début. “Interruptus” is quality IDM, with its shuffling dance beat energised by spidery scrawls of guitar noise. And the closing track “Eye TV” (featuring a guest appearance by American noise musician Kim Cascone) brings a welcome blast of harder and more livid electronic textures. Cascone’s presence seems to inject elements of risk and excitement that are in scant evidence elsewhere on the record.

(originally published in The Sound Projector 17, 2008)

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