Finally, after several EPs and a whole lot of waiting, Barcelona trio Boreals has released their full-length debut, Antípodas, on Irregular. It’s nine songs of pure, almost cinematic, musical genius. I know that a lot of people will attach the IDM (intelligent dance music) label to the group’s complex sonority, but it doesn’t necessarily fit into that little category. In fact, Antípodas is as full of electronic dance music as it is dream pop, downtempo, and acoustic folk. It even has some classical undertones. Don’t be afraid if you get lost in the LP; it’s a record tailor made for that exact purpose.
The album opens with the sister (or brother?) tracks “Antípodas I” and “Antípodas II,” two songs that blend into each other to set the tone for the rest of the record. That tone involves a great amount of hopefulness and sort of contemplative excitement for the future. Maybe it’s because Víctor and Xavier Paradis and Miquel Serra are really young, but it might just be because life is exciting even when it’s not. There are hints of sadness (or maybe nostalgia) in a song like “Invierno Fractal,” but they’re slowly buried by pulsing percussion in mid-tempo, synths, and post-rock guitars. “Atlas,” a standout among many, crosses into trip-hop territory, with syncopated percussion, guitar riffs that slowly build up but never turn into a frenzy, and distant strings.
They mix organic and electronic elements without notice and that’s what makes Antípodas such a trip. Their first single, “No te metas las manos en el bolsillo,” teases you with a gorgeous classical guitar and ethereal vocals, but then it evolves into a dark, synth track that shows you which sonic direction Boreals could take next. The same goes for “Nage” and the broken beats of a track like “Kodama” (look it up, I won’t ruin the surprise) with label mates Laser.
If I say anymore I’ll ruin the experience, but it is fair to say Antípodas reminded me of something German electronic music producer Ulrich Schnauss said in a 2007 interview with Under the Radar about the music he creates: “I have always loved music that has both elements: melancholy and sadness as a description of the current situation you are in, but at the same time a hopeful, utopian element that reminds you of the possibility of a different life.” I think that applies perfectly to what you’ll find in Antípodas.