It may be a coincidence that Pepo Galán’s extraordinary new album Human Values Disappear landed today, almost exactly one year after the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. Intentionally or not, he has captured perfectly the bewildering emotions of 2017.
The album’s promo sheet describes the work with a dark metaphor: “a boat that travels adrift … sinking, little by little. … This present, with its paradoxes and incongruities, is diluting our capacity for communication, commitment and self-sacrifice.” (A rough translation of the original.)
Politics aside, these seven new pieces of music are stunningly crafted. Galán is a Spanish DJ, composer and muti-instrumentalist with 15 solo releases on his resume. His career dates back to the early 1990s, and includes work in electronics, experimental music and even punk and metal.
Mastered by 12K’s Taylor Deupree, this album would be right at home in a conversation about that celebrated artist’s work. It begins with the title track, a mournful, deceivingly complex piece. It signals confusion, anxiety and melancholy all at once.
Next is “We Are All Welcome Here,” featuring ambient music producer David Cordero. Another Spaniard, Cordero has a considerable back catalogue himself. This one has a more spacious feel. There’s a sense of loss, or perhaps being lost that’s gently unsettling.
“Old Testament,” another Cordero collaboration, comes next. It’s primarily a drone work set against soft white noise. At the start of this track – a dozen minutes into the album – it’s clear that we’re listening to something special. Human Values Disappear, despite its challenging subject matter, is luxuriously beautiful.
Galán’s other partner on the project is Lee Yi, who was featured in this space last month. Yi’s input can be heard on the title track and on “Almost Alone In This Life.” The latter takes the album in a distinctly noisy direction, while maintaining its low-key vibe.
Galán’s striking minimalist cover design can be found on a limited 250-piece run of the album’s white vinyl edition.