Album Review: Various Artists – La Ola Interior: Spanish Ambient & Acid Exoticism 1983-1990 [Bongo Joe Records; March 2021]

Welcome to a visionary inner self odyssey, spanning the golden age of Spanish electronic music. La Ola Interior groups two generations of artists; some young such as: Miguel A. Ruiz, Victor Nubla, or Camino al Desván, and an older one gathering names such as Finis Africae, Suso Saiz and Javier Segura. Música discreta (ambient) and Fourth-World Music bulk large in the 20-track double album, while every track moves in a stylistic roundabout from ethno-trance to industrial and electronic beats, from German komische musik and krautrok to American minimalism, with a high degree of experimental, improvisatory, modal jazz, and non-Western musical influences.

La Ola Interior is founded on, or a continuation of, a 2018 compilation, La Contra Ola: Spanish Synth Wave & Post Punk 1980-1986. This album took a step further, revealing hidden and underground artists that recorded and distributed their music on cassette throughout Spain, Paris, and Berlin. Bearing in mind this idea, La Ola Interior recaptures renowned and unknown musical figures of ambient exoticism paying a tribute to the little-known musicians and producers of the electronic music scene.

The movement of ‘La Movida’ is the backdrop for the album. It is considered as a form of Spanish identity that came out of the post-Franco era. As a counter-cultural movement it gave the opportunity for innovative ventures. Artists such as Miguel A. Ruiz or Finis Africae (Luis Delgado) are a straight footprint of ‘La Movida’. Miguel Ruiz’s Trivandrum (1986), for instance, is supported by an industrial techno design that immediately awakens the electronic grooves in combination with the Eastern musical flavour of India.

As a contrast, Finis Africae’s ‘Hybla’ develops through a vocal texture, soloist and choral, on a percussive base fused with wind instruments, electronic and folk music. The fluid effect of the overall track is like an ascending climax to the end, with a sudden remote echo. From the older generation, La Ola Interior includes two tracks that have come to light for the very first time: Suso Saiz’s ‘Horizonte Paseo’ and Javier Segura’s ‘Malagueñas’. Like their fellows, their music is characterised by an experimental ethnic sound, alongside with incorporated exotic, ancient and traditional instruments. Their music flows easily, as a sort of a psychedelic sunlight increasing with fantastic imagination, especially with Javier’s music.

Another generation of artists are represented by figures such as Mecánica Popular, Camino al Desván, Victor Nubla, or Jabir. They come from a tradition of underground producers and independent labels. Their music involves the listener in a three-dimensional sound image, arousing atypical levels of illusion. Experimentation, sound collage, and sampling are  particular methods of production in Orfeón Gagarín’s and Victor Nubla’s music. The flute in Jabir’s ‘Vuelo por las Alturas de Xauen’ creates a relaxed and thoughtful discourse that later turns into a synth sound space.

The overall experience takes the listener into a sound adventure where imagination has a main role. One or another stylistic feature is part of a unity and diversity throughout the whole album. At the end of the day, the title of the album is an invitation to explore the individual inner self and the sound waves experience.