Review Summary: "This story begins at a happy ending."
Art is often beautiful to look at, a distraction from reality. A canvas, at the start, is a blank board of endless white, nothingness. But in the eyes of an artist, it's the beginning of a story. Imagination takes over, and upon this canvas, a union of colors create an image. Artists capture the beauty of the world that we often overlook, and put it out on display for the world to see. Surreal artists, like Salvador Dali, create images of what could never be. An eruption of imagination captured on a framed piece of paper. To some musicians, music is another form of expression. Only they create an experience that goes far beyond vision, an arrangement of sounds that express emotions words could never describe. Standstill take their art very seriously, almost obsessively. Pushing themselves, and their music, to different boundaries. This is a band that sees their writing process as a form of meditation, developing a connection with their instruments and letting their hands and fingers translate the thoughts of their mind into beautiful sounds.
Outside of the Romance-language speaking nations, "Standstill" is not a name that is often conscious in the attention of mainstream media, but the band has developed a strong following in Europe. Standstill was formed in Spain during the mid-1990's, and their music has gone through a series of alterations that is seldom seen in musical acts. During their first incarnation, emerging out of the flourishing Hardcore scene, they released two albums; The Ionic Spell
(2001) and Memories Collector
(2002). The band's lyrics were spoken in english at the time, perhaps in the hopes that their music would appeal to a wider audience, particularly Americans. Their music, despite being dexterously written, hardly separated them from the countless other acts that were beginning to participate in the growing "Hardcore" trend. In 2003, the band released an acoustic EP, The Latest Kiss
. A surprising release, as it contained elements of 1960's Folk music, the complete opposite of their previous releases. Though only containing 5 songs, their was a higher level of artistry in their compositions. The music and lyrics felt much more intimate, each song containing a different kind of emotion. The Latest Kiss introduced a band that could go far beyond the aggressive sounds of Hardcore, this was a group that looked beyond the present and knew that if they wanted to be heard, their music had to stand out from the rest.
In their second incarnation, the band began to sing in Spanish while embracing a series of musical genres ranging from Post-Rock to Psychedelia. Their third studio album, Standstill
, revealed a group that was beginning to branch out from their Hardcore sound but without actually diverging from it. The album, though accomplished, displayed a band that was still evolving rather than a band with a conscious identity. Their fourth release, Vivalaguerra
, displayed the confidence in itself that it's predecessor lacked. Only this time, the band embraced their Psychedelic influences much more seriously and even branching into a more Progressive sound. The band's heavier Rock roots are still evident, but the orchestration of the music was focused more on atmosphere and their sound felt much more tamed because of it.
In 2010, Standstill revealed their third incarnation, only this change in direction was rather baffling. After releasing the highly praised Psychedelic/Post-Rock content of Vivalaguerra, fans and critics questioned the band's desire to, yet again, rebuild themselves. And the answer is because Standstill see themselves as pioneers of music, exploring their limits and pushing themselves past it. Adelante Bonaparte
, displays the band's most innovative nature. This music is very delicate. It has a more intimate and orchestral aesthetic, yet at the same time it's their most experimental release incorporating a variety of influences. Adelante Bonaparte, is considered a concept album revolving around a protagonist. Vocalist, Enric Montefusco, has stated that the album follows the sensations in every stage of life. It's an album that talks about life, childhood, and death. The album is an epic, containing 20 tracks that are divided into 3 different acts following the life of a character simply named, "B.".
"Todos de Pie (Prefacio)"
, begins the album with a repetitive piano arrangement that drives the song, while violin parts and other minor instruments are used to decorate the track with an ambient sound for the background. This song sets the overall approach musically, as well as the mood of the album. There is a touch of melancholia in the ambient background effects that decorate the songs, but the lyrical deliveries and primary instruments often feel upbeat. I suppose it's to represent how in life we discover all of the negative aspects in the world, but even still, one tries to have a positive outlook. "Cosquillas No (Esta Niña Me Gusta)"
is an example of the experimental tracks in the album while also displaying the band's psychedelic tendencies, it's an instrumental piece driven by effects and synthesizers. The song shows the subtle avant-garde and Musique concrète touches that Standstill incorporates into their music, only this time they play a larger role in the album than simple decorations to the music. Though they're mainly used as interludes between songs.
Adelante Bonaparte, for the most part musically, displays a return to the acoustic ballads of The Latest Kiss but with an emphasis on Psychedelic, Musique concrete, and even Baroque decorations within their compositions. A prime example would be; "La Familia Inventada"
, a beautifully orchestrated acoustic ballad that slowly builds up momentum, and ends in a restrained high note. "Ayer Soñé Contigo"
, is perhaps the epitome of what Standstill is trying to accomplish in Adelante Bonaparte musically. The song displays a dream-like quality, driven by a delicate musical arrangement. But the emotion that is felt by the song, is almost paradoxical in nature, letting out a sleepy melancholia while at the same time sounding optimistic. Again, the music is reflecting both the negative and positive aspects one experiences in life.
Adelante Bonaparte is another accomplished release by one of Spain's most prominent musical acts. Though the album's lyrical content is sung in Castilian (European) Spanish, the ingeniously written compositions won't get lost in translation. Music, when it's good, has a way of translating through any language barrier. If given the chance, One may find this album to be an enriching musical experience.