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  Automatic Entertainment  
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Resplandor are a shoegaze band from Lima, Peru. When you Google the band name, you get lots of hits indicating that El Resplandor is the Spanish for The Shining, as in the movie with Jack Nicholson. (Brendan's Note: Or the book by Stephen King.) Likewise when you Google "Pleamar", you discover that Pleamar is a TV channel based in Seville, Spain. A search to translate the word indicates that it means "high tide", so i am not sure if this is some oceanic reference or indicative that the band are fans of TV from Spain.

At any rate, Resplandor have been making music in Lima since the mid-90s. I have been vaguely aware of them through my internet shoegazer connections, but this is the first of their records that i have heard in full. Not to say that i have been unimpressed with what i have heard; to the contrary, Resplandor's limited catalog is of high quality, but rather difficult to track down in North America. I made extra effort to track down this release, for Pleamar was produced by none other than the Godfather of Shoegaze himself, Mr. Robin Guthrie. (Or should that be M. Robin Guthrie, now that he lives in France?) Aside from being one of my favorite guitarists of all time, Guthrie is a very skilled producer, and the bands he works with are usually worth hearing. This is no exception.

Resplandor pull in some of their friends in the international shoegazer scene for help. Downfall features a backing female vocal bit courtesy of Ana Breton of Mahogany. Breton and bandmate Andrew Prinz join Resplandor to add still more guitars and voice to Twilight, the album's long, slow closer. Interestingly, towards the beginning of that song, there is a guitar riff that is very Guthrie, and i wonder if he lent his axe to the proceedings, or if his numerous disciples simply ended up sounding like him, however briefly. According to the Resplandor website, Scott Cortez of Loveliescrushing also plays on the record, although his influence is more subtle and not as immediately noticeable to me, perhaps because i am not as familiar with his work.

So, Resplandor are a long running Peruvian shoegazer act with numerous connections in the international shoegazer mafia, who have put together a 48 minute album featuring a lot of heavyweights in the scene. How does it hold up? Is the band more hype than they are worth?

Fortunately, the album does hold up. Pleamar is among the best shoegazer records that i have heard in, well, a long time. It is full of shimmering layers (upon layers upon layers) of guitar, big shiny melodies, and tremolo that positively oozes out of your stereo. The songs tend to move at a mid-tempo pace, as if weighed down by the density of music that went into recording them. If you like that classic shoegaze sound, which Guthrie records so well, then you will enjoy this album.

I think some of the singing is in English, and some in Spanish. Usually the voice is buried in the mix, hidden under guitar washes, so it is never clearly heard. Heck, they could be singing all of the songs in Klingon for all i know... it's not important really. However, i know that some people get obsessed with understanding the words. If you are one such listener, then you might want to avoid Pleamar, as the lyrics are something you might never decipher.

There are no snoozers here, especially if you like the style from which they do not deviate. The real standout for me is Oeste, which occurs in the middle of the album. The sound here is somewhat darker than on the other tunes, the voice referencing both Ian Curtis and Steve Kilbey, while the guitars chug along over a beat that reminds me of Seefeel. Dark electro shoegaze, which lyrics that i think are in Spanish. There is a lot going on with the guitar work here: it grinds, chimes, and chugs all at the same time. Very very nice.

Another stunner is Boreal, in which the three Resplandor boys try very hard to sound like the work that Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd have been doing of late, and succeed rather well. But they push that light sound further, adding a thick fuzzy guitar over the chiming for great effect.

There is a lot to absorb on this album, and i expect to be delving through it deep layers of sound for quite some time. If you like shoegaze, this is absolutely essential. People who are not fans of the genre probably will not be converted by this, but oh well. It's a beautiful disc, but not for everyone.

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