Horizonte Lied – Reciclaje – Album Review
That is…one seriously appropriate title for an album like this one.
Don’t get me wrong…even though the comparisons to Depeche Mode would be apparent to anyone out there listening & familiar with the band – I still like what I hear…and I’m not talking about recycling being the right title for this record on the basis of that fact alone. What I’m referring to is…I mean…like…how long are we supposed to be working on our debut albums y’all? And what occurs in the meantime while we slide the studio dials back & forth so relentlessly? Is a year too long? Is five? How about a decade? How about more than TWO decades – which is actually the case here on Horizonte Lied’s first record Reciclaje…that’s an astonishing amount of time. To be fair to the band, according to what I’ve read, the album was originally released back in 2001 with the same title – it’s just a more apt moniker now that it has been remastered & re-released here in 2022. My concern of course, is that we can all spend a lifetime making one song or one record – and it can come out with stellar results, just like Horizonte Lied has generated with this lineup of eleven tracks…but again, what happens to all that time in between? Is everything put on hold while all this mixing & mastering happens? What’s the real explanation as to why a band with as much talent as this crew possesses, has only released one other single (Wishing To Be There) outside of what you’ll find on Reciclaje in more than twenty years? This honestly blows my mind…I can’t imagine being able to create music like these guys can, just to sit on that talent for so long.
So you got it folks…I’m completely of two minds here. On the one side of things, I’m obviously happy for the band to get these songs out there the way I suppose they’ve always hoped & intended for them to sound…that’s a great thing, of course. And you know what I always say around these pages of ours…if no one’s listening, try & try again until they do – this could very well be a case of that, and if so, right on – good on them for continuing to push the music they’ve made out there around the globe. The other mystery still remains though…there’s a massively huge void of time where no music has been created or released as far as I can tell…and I can’t for the life of me reconcile any reasons as to why that would be. Hopefully, the re-release of Reciclaje will light a fire under the band & get them in gear – quickly! If it’s going to take twenty-plus years to get their albums perfected, they’re really gonna have get a move on if there’s ever going to BE another record from Horizonte Lied…time grows shorter by the day for all of us.
Anyhow. Obviously I wouldn’t be harping about all this if the music wasn’t any good, right? Horozonte Lied is really damn good at what they do, and there’s no doubt about that. From track one straight on through to track eleven, I’m confident in saying that if you dig what you hear right away, you’ll have no problem at all sticking it out right to the end. As it kicks into gear with “Zona Prohibida” you can hear that the band proudly embraces a sound that was already around years prior to their own record being made, but a sound that still continues to be an inspiration to millions around the world to this very day. The rhythm is solid, the beat has that distance you’ll recognize from the heart of the 80s where this whole vibe was originally created by bands like Depeche Mode, and of course, you’ve got a whole lot of interesting depth in the synths surrounding it too…another main-staple of the style. No doubt that it works really well though – Horizonte Lied generates interest quickly, displays a solid combination in their music & vocals that’ll have no problem enticing people in, and they lace “Zona Prohibida” with multiple hooks that are pretty much guaranteed to get listeners paying attention without feeling like it’s forced.
“Vía de Júbilo” is a great example of how Horizonte Lied was able to take the Depeche Mode influence and not quite be a carbon copy…at the end of the day, this band has a sound that’s equally rooted in Pop on a track like this one. Which is good! The world already has a Depeche Mode, so ya may as well do something a little bit differently, right? Ultimately I think it works in their favor…it brightens up the overall vibe enough to add a bit more accessibility into the mix…and although their music is sung in Spanish, I don’t think that would keep anyone from resisting the hooks at the core of a track like “Vía de Júbilo” – the music has real bounce to it in the production, the piano adds massive depth to the melody, and their vocals are right on point too. A track like this actually feels like what it would have been like to cross the Funk-inspired roots of a band like Bootsauce, the songwriting instincts of Depeche Mode, and the flair of a band like INXS…Horizonte Lied is an amalgamation of a lot of tried, tested, and true music that has proven to be timeless. Considering the fact that Reciclaje was essentially created over twenty years ago, clearly the music practically NEEDS to be timeless, wouldn’t you say? I really like the final minute of this track and how the lead vocals rise up, the backing vocals support the hooks, and the synth has the ability to wander a bit more…“Vía de Júbilo” has its most memorable moments towards the end.
It’s atmospheric-based stuff in general…and my ears appreciate that. I think a lot of synth-lovin’ folks out there around the world will when it comes right down to it. There’s no doubt that Reciclaje comes with a somewhat dated sound as much as a timeless one, but the band comes by it honestly and clearly embraces their influences with open arms. “Una Tarde Extraña” ends up being fueled by an expansive & expressive sound combined, and contains a stunning breakdown towards the middle of the song that serves the dynamics of the structure brilliantly. There’s a lot about “Una Tarde Extraña” that has me feeling like it’s my favorite of the first three tracks really…and I admire the fact that Horizonte Lied seems to create songs that genuinely build on themselves as they play on. As in, the longer you listen, the more highlights you’ll tend to discover…they save a lot of their fireworks for the final minutes, but they also manage to generate real interest straight away as each track begins too. All-in-all, it’s pretty hard to complain about that kind of recipe…they’ve got strong musicianship, dependable vocals, and a high level of execution…like I said at the start, if anything, Reciclaje has you wanting MORE from them. Not on this record – they’ve been there and done this at this point – I’m talkin’ about MORE new stuff!
Because you’ll listen to “Nuestras Vidas” and that’s exactly what you’ll want, trust me. In terms of what we all consider universally accessible, chances are, in the first four tracks of Reciclaje, it’s “Nuestras Vidas” that will get the highest marks in the court of public opinion in the general consensus. I know that I personally have a hard time resisting this tune, and I’m not inclined to try – I dig what I hear, and I love the added energy you’ll find at the core of this cut. I might still be more partial to “Una Tarde Extraña” personally by just a bit – but believe me when I tell ya, the fluidity & stellar sound that fuels the fire of “Nuestras Vidas” is a pretty close second for me. Different tracks with different flavors of course, but the fact that they’re so close to being my favorites of the first four tracks actually speaks volumes on behalf of their consistency overall, considering the variation in their sound from song to song. It’s still cohesive to the Post-Punk style, but they do manage to change this just enough to make it noticeable. I like that they’ve got wild things happenin’ on the bass in this tune, excellent vocal hooks to keep us all engaged, and that ever-present aspect of atmospherically-based sound in the mix to tie it all together. I’d say the vocal hooks are the strongest element of this cut overall…great stuff on this track all around.
LISTEN to that deadly synth riff at the core of “Laberinto Invisible” will ya? Love it! It provides a real meaty vibe for the rest of the music to respond to, and you can hear how it sets the stage for the brighter melodies to exist on top of the surface of this song. I’m probably a bit more at odds with how the vocals & music contrast with each other on this particular track…but to be truthful, I still feel the same way about every second track with Depeche Mode too…sometimes it works, and works perfectly – other times, it’s like the combination clashes just a bit more than it should. I’m not opposed to what I’m hearing in “Laberinto Invisible” overall…and I don’t think anyone out there would be reaching over to turn this down either…but yeah…something about it just seems a bit less balanced in its strengths in comparison to the rest of the set. Sometimes it’s better not to force things if they don’t seem quite right…and I get a little suspicious that they might have done that here. The vocal hooks are fantastic – especially in the chorus…but even those don’t seem like they really fit this particular song, you feel me? As far as the breakdown of the music mid-song is concerned…that too threw me a little bit…it just didn’t really seem like what the song itself was calling out for, and created more of a feeling like Horizonte Lied kept searching for the parts of “Laberinto Invisible” that worked best, without ever really finding them.
I think it’s probably fair to say that one of the most universally challenging cuts to listen to is probably going to be “Salir A Flote” – this whole jam takes the music is a much different direction than the previous cuts did, and it might just take a spin or two for a few folks to wrap their minds around it. What I personally dig, is that it’s a bit more inventive, unique, and innovative in their style of sound by comparison to the rest of what’s out there in Post-Punk/Industrial music…but by that same token, I can also hear how that works against them to a degree in terms of accessibility. Thankfully though, making music ain’t about that as a general rule, and it doesn’t work like that anyway…no one out there says everything we create has to be liked by everyone, otherwise no one would even dare write a single song or be brave enough to push the boundaries of art. “Salir A Flote” is different enough to stand out from the rest of the lineup, but hopefully curiosity-inducing in a way that draws you in…tracks like this that challenge convention and what we know about melody & music should be something we all welcome. Sadly…experience tells me it usually ain’t…which makes a track like “Salir A Flote” have a much more uphill battle for the attention of listeners out there…but c’mon y’all…don’t be lumped in with the masses – dare to be different, and get on into this track! There’s a ton of rhythm in it for ya…there’s a whole beat & synth percussion element to it that makes it really clever to dig into…and it felt like we actually got a solid dose of real culture threaded into this track as well – lots of positives to be enjoyed.
Getting back to that Bootsauce comparison I was making earlier…are you telling me you can’t hear that at the beginning of “El Sonido del Silencio?” That 80s-esque style of Funk rhythm is stamped all over this cut really…and the only reason you can’t hear the comparison likely stems from the fact that no one really knew who Bootsauce was, especially people outside of Canada where they were based out of. Anyhow. I feel very similar towards “El Sonido del Silencio” as I did with “Salir A Flote” – these are innovative cuts on this record, and can be challenging to the ears at points – but I felt like the rewards of listening were certainly there. In my opinion, they both become a couple of the most addictive tracks on the record after you put in a good listen to Reciclaje…but admittedly, it does take a couple of spins at the very least to give your ears & brain a chance to absorb the uniqueness that you’re hearing from Horizonte Lied. At a robust 6:37, it’s a meaty tune with a whole lot goin’ on…but there are some truly fantastic wins in this cut and victories for the band overall. For instance, the vocal melody & hooks are probably among the strongest you’ll find on this record, and the entire duration of the final two minutes of this song that takes “El Sonido del Silencio” into instrumental terrain, are all-out award-worthy in my opinion. I might have been enjoying myself at the start, but by the end, I wanted to stand up and cheer.
“Mal Día” is pretty decent…and I’d argue that it restores the accessibility factor just a bit more. All-in-all, it’s really interesting to me that Horizonte Lied has chosen to re-release Reciclaje in its remastered form – I can’t really say that I necessarily feel like the their whole sound would really work any better now than it would have originally, know what I mean? It would have been good then, it’s still good now – but listeners are still who they are, and I’m not sure society has shifted enough for this to become any more mainstream than it already wasn’t – follow me? Sure we’ve got bands like Depeche Mode, or newer examples of that vibe in stuff like The Editors, or She Wants Revenge…but any of those names would have at best, made it to the fringe of the mainstream…it’s never been a commonly accepted sound. Which again, is fine…in fact, there are many people that would tell ya mainstream art & music lack all kinds of flavor and legitimacy anyway…and I’d probably agree. I like my art & music from the underground I suppose…I guess that’s why I’ve always chosen to be a part of the independent scene & not write for Rolling Stone instead. I like tracks like “Mal Día,” that would never be played in the bank or in an elevator; it’s a highly evocative track with a ton to offer your ears from performance to production.
Again, much like similar acts in The Editors, She Wants Revenge, The Cure, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, or even Nine Inch Nails earlier work – I think a lot of that music would actually function in a much more accessible way without the addition of vocals. And keep in mind, I love just about every single one of those bands y’all! The end of songs like “El Sonido del Silencio” proves my point perfectly though, and so does “Reciclaje (Interludio)” – Horizonte Lied can be insanely interesting without the use of a single word. It takes a lot of courage to go in that direction though when you have a capable singer like they have…it’s kind of like having a key ingredient to a recipe you know is important and choosing not to use it instead…chances are, people are expecting to find it in the mix somewhere – make sense? Still…I’m always gonna advocate on behalf of giving the songs we make a life of their own, and that their best chance of survival & some recognitions exists by serving their needs, as opposed to the needs of the players involved in creating them. So heck yeah…I’m all about it when Horizonte Lied wants to take a moment to create an instrumental cut like “Reciclaje (Interludio)” – their music totally speaks for itself.
“Un Viage al Cielo” makes great use of its sound selection, texture & tone, and the true power of synth percussion. In addition to that, I think “Un Viage al Cielo” also has one of the most noticeable transitions between its verses and chorus, and one of the most effective in that regard as well. A solid example of how to take a good song & make it a great one, “Un Viage al Cielo” builds on itself brilliantly, and delivers a mix that has just as much depth to it as it does melody. Obviously, track ten isn’t usually where we find the most single-worthy cuts on any given record, but Horizonte Lied might just beat the odds with this particular track…there’s a lot of single-worthy sound & hooks to be found within this song. Great job on the vocals, fantastic ideas in the music, and overall, I think they’ve really used the production to their advantage to ensure they get the maximum potential out of both those elements. As a result, “Un Viage al Cielo” ends up feeling like one of the most complete listening experiences you’ll find in any of the songs on Reciclaje…I’d imagine people out there will really get into this track for sure. Really strong hooks & melody in the vocals of this track…memorable in ways listeners will wanna repeat.
They wrap it up confidently with a remarkable final cut called “Fantasma Blanco,” which is actually the longest song on the entire record as well at just a second shy of a full seven minutes in length. This is wildly inspired stuff though, without a doubt…and it’s like you can feel the imagination, innovation, and ingenuity in the electricity of the atmosphere from the very moment this track begins. But let’s be real here – when Horizonte Lied has been at their best, they’ve been nothing short of sincerely rad to listen to…this last cut at the very end is simply confirmation of so much of what I’ve been saying throughout this review to be the truth, that’s all. Especially the point I was making about serving what the song really needs – you can hear that in action on this last instrumental cut that finishes off Reciclaje – this is a perfect example of pushing all the egos aside, and just doing the right things for this specific moment in music. Does it work? Oh man, does it ever! From my own personal perspective…it’s pretty hard to argue that “Fantasma Blanco” isn’t my favorite track on the whole album…I’m actually pretty sure that it IS. There’s just so much here to love, and it’s like every move they make along the way serves serious purpose…it’s got rhythm, groove, depth, atmosphere…all that good stuff & more…and it’s EXCITINGLY FRESH. Great low-end to it underneath the surface in the murky bass undertones…stunning melodies sprinkled over-top as well, or like, pieces where the organ & bells come atcha like a horror movie come to life…”Fantasma Blanco” can often sound like Horizonte Lied pulled this song straight outta the crypt!
And I’m here for it! It makes for a spectacular ending, and gives you an instant desire to repeat the entire experience of listening to Reciclaje all over again, just to see what else stands out the next time. Hopefully this record makes some real noise out there around the world this time around, and the band keeps things moving forward from here.
Find out more about Horizonte Lied at their official website: http://www.horizontelied.com
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