By Amanda Nordqvist
In the beginning of November of last year, Spanish composer and multi-instrumentalist Pepo Galán released a new ambient experimental album called Human Values Disappear. The album is a strong commentary on the daily struggles we find ourselves in – the loss of decency and mutual respect, leading to a society where we’re too busy focusing on our own shortcomings that we forget or neglect to see what goes on all around us: a world in chaos, painted by distrust and dishonesty. With the help of Lee Yi and David Cordero, Galán has created this album in an effort to portray the haunting road we’ve begun travelling, and it is as poignant as it is disquieting.
The title track, featuring Lee Yi, is a gripping one, sorrow painted intensely across each long note – the droning and clattering perfectly explain both inner and outer turmoil of any human being in today’s world. The wind screeches, waves are crashing and the track ventures into a melodic ringing where unpredictable smattering paints pictures of forest fires being drenched by flighty showers of rain – I hear the horns like warning signs to stay inside, close the doors and the windows, forget you were ever here.
Following this intense track is another cacophony of ringing, as We Are All Welcome Here featuring David Cordero sets off. It starts off gentle but climbs fast into a whirlwind of sound, like a thousand birds shattering through the painted glass windows of a church, and everything moves so slowly. The ringing intensifies in perpetuity it seems, and the changes are slow and fastidious, nothing is left to chance. As the ringing drifts off it is replaced by the eerie Old Testament, a low dissonance accompanied by small bursts of input – like communicating with something that’s not quite real, but utterly calming none the less; a sense of something neither good nor bad, but alive and inquisitive.
After a short intermission with the mesmerizing melody of Half Moon, another collaboration with Lee Yi follows, as Almost Alone In This Life tells of that connection with something eternally far away, the distant memory of the values we once had, trying desperately to recall and re-establish. There’s chugging like that of a train on a railroad, telling of a movement ever forward; there’s gritty, hungry noise of mayhem as constant distractions from this goal – but we have to power through, we have to reach that place where we can find each other again. Sacred Autumn comes next, with a powerful ignition of ominous and emotive strings, building steadily towards that intense ringing – the sounds move straight through you, like the wind pressing on your chest when you stand on a cliff with your arms outstretched – it’s terrifying but you feel so awake.
Then we find a healthy familiarity in Few Dollar More, with hopeful scribbling, chirping and rustling, accompanied by the gently grand droning telling of this urgent decay of our world going under. With this track, the album comes to its conclusion, and though it is a petrifying tale, that eternal grain of hope is always on the outskirts of your mind, soothing the worst of the angst. Galán’s creation is as beautiful as it is important, and I can only hope it will be the reminder many of us need, to take a second to actually look at the lives we are living and the choices we are making.