Peru’s musical avant-garde has an impressive catalog of releases, considering they were created in a vacuum of commercial success. Not many people buy these records and most of these artists are signed to local labels with little to no distribution. What’s interesting is that these artists have an uncompromising sense of integrity, as they continue to release music regardless of whether anyone is paying attention or not.
Wilder Gonzales Agreda is one of the key movers of the Peruvian experimental scene. To better appreciate his latest release, Lima Norte Metamúsica (Superspace Records), it’s important to note that he runs a blog dedicated to Peru’s current avant-garde scene and hosts a radio show by the name of Metamúsica. That being said, this album can be viewed as a manifesto written from the perspective of an artist who is also completely aware of his creative surroundings. Wilder is a sponge that absorbs everything around him, and he’s created an album that has fractal-like coherence from beginning to end.
The album opens with “Aves Mares Voz,” a short, glitchy sound collage that points us in a slightly different direction than where the album actually goes. One of the main characteristics of this album is that it borrows aspects of drone and instrumental psychedelia to tell a story. “All I Want” and “Pangea” seem to be two acts of the same play, creating tension and release with sounds that remind us of hospitals and police radio. “Noguchi,” the only track with some sort of melodic arrangement, placed strategically in the middle, is about a psychiatric ward in Lima Norte, sounding like a disjointed homage to Konono No.1.
The album follows with two skeletal and cerebral tracks that require more commitment from the listener. “Sé Tu Propio Tótem” is a six-minute loopy track full of demented voices on top of expressive, modulated sound waves. “Mi Frecuencia” is a 12-minute improvisation that couples a rapid tempo sequence with what seem to be radio transmissions between astronauts.
The use of layered, spectral vocal tracks are a distinguishing mark throughout the album, providing an extra dimension, making it seem like there is a presence looming over the music. At its core, it’s a psychedelic drone album, relying on rudimentary synth sounds, yet there is always a sense that the artist is present and aware of himself. Metamúsica seems like an appropriate name for the album, as Wilder is constantly oscillating between performer and listener. His music is inspired by art at the fringe of the mainstream, and even he finds himself both alienated and engaged by the music that surrounds him.
For the cover art of this album, Wilder enlisted the work of surrealist pop illustrator Anthony Ausgang. His work has been featured on album covers for acts like MGMT and Sonic Boom. The artwork shows a playfully colorful and surreal depiction of cartoon animal paws swimming weightlessly in a dark and murky landscape. Perhaps Lima Norte Metamúsica is as much an intimate look into Wilder’s personal history as it is a tongue-in-cheek reminder that humor is as important as tragedy, especially in experimental music.