This article covers three Spanish bands discovered through various concerts and outlets like bandcamp and SoundCloud. All three of them have a different take on drone and shoegaze music, a style that’s hard to find in Spain.
Univers is a band that is just getting started, having played a lot of secret shows in Barcelona and just recently playing more publicly (including alongside acts like Mikal Cronin). They only have one track floating around the Internet now called “Paral-lel,” which is clever, considering the band’s name (“Paral-lel” by Univers, a parallel universe in Catalan Spanish). The music has a lot of pop and garage-rock earmarks, playful guitar riffs and surfy melodies, backed by buried vocals that perhaps mumble out the voice of some great dying deity. The track is only four minutes long, but it definitively demonstrates the type of extended ebbing psychedelic alternate reality droning out of a basement that the band must be able to craft live and that could go on for ten minutes.
I initially found out about Univers by surfing around bandcamp and it wasn’t until later when talking with the also excellent, straight up garage-rock band Mujeres that I realized that the lead singer and guitarist, Yago Alcover, was also a member of Univers. Alcover recently explained to VICE that the difference between the projects is that Mujeres is more “rogue” or maybe “riffraff” and Univers is more pop, although it might seem like the opposite. In reality, they are totally distinct groups, with really different sounds and completely different members. It’s worth it to do a little google translating for the Vice interview, because it’s hilarious and highlights another difference between the groups, that Univers might be more “for girls,” having a strange type of sex appeal.
Sexy Bicycle is a more pop-based band where the guitars and tambourines come in clear, but the vocals are moans drenched in reverb and other effects. The music has a lot of instrumentation for a duo, decorated with the sound of running water and cavernous trumpet. The Barcelona group is Nika Elia & Nicolás Manzano and they have one EP out now called The River. There’s something bright and relaxing to it, but at the same time spooky and haunting. It’s an excellent four track release that shows a lot of potential, which is great, because the group is working on an LP now.
Mr. Hubba & El Mono Inventor
For how popular digital music is in Europe, it can be hard to come across electronic musicians in Spain. Mr. Hubba & El Mono Inventor is the duo Miguel Yuste and Guillermo Martorell Casanovas who played into a slow, black ambient void full of space twinkles that sounds like what the visual night sky would sound like if it were translated into just audio. They only released one album in 2006 called Stargarder, which is as of now probably impossible to find. Apparently, when they stopped playing they left behind a lot of recorded material which the independent Barcelona record label Bankrobber collected and released in 2010 as Vida y Muerte de Mr. Hubba & El Mono Inventor.
The liner notes for the collection are short, but make statements like “Among the glaring musical injustices of this country is undoubtedly
the limited impact made by Mr. Hubba & El Mono Inventor, one of the most personal and daring acts that the independent scene has seen,” and also that Stargarder is, “among the most important works of experimental music in Spain in the new millennium.” Without a doubt, daring is the word for the band, considering I imagine that if mid-2000s Spain wasn’t listening to traditional music, it was looking to smoke weed to jams or bang its head to metal or sweat and grind in a discotheque and probably not much else more. A slow electronic star would probably need to supernova out of the country or collapse into itself, the latter of which was probably the fate for Mr. Hubba & El Mono Inventor.