Chile’s Bahía Mansa (Iván Aguayo) caught my attention with his meandering environmental journey, La Orilla en la Que Habito, but his newest effort, botánica del olvido, is an even more memorable aural portrait. Aguayo’s music is baked in nature, adorned with pastoral field recordings of the wind blowing through trees, gentle rain, and chipper birds all accompanying layers of emotionally rich ambient tones.
In certain passages on botánica del olvido, like the playful “el camino del agua” and lush, rapturous “los nenúfares de monet,” faint nods to Mort Garson’s Plantasia shine through. Aguayo never imitates, but takes ideas on Garson’s masterpiece and filters them through glass corridors and root systems made of quartz. There’s a hazy shimmer hovering over the melodic synth ether of “el camino del agua,” like chimes ringing underwater. It’s laid back and beautiful. The title track paints in similar tones, but Aguayo layers in synthetic strings for some drama and heartbreak. Quiet reflection floats toward the sunset as the piece comes to a hushed conclusion.
Low rumbles of a distant storm rise from a background of a relaxing stream and singing birds on “hombre bajo la buma,” the album’s standout. Aguayo is joined by Natalia on violin and Teadora on vocals, adding a tenuous weight to keep the song from floating away like a paper lantern. Eventually, Natalia’s strings cry out, holding Aguayo’s opulent looping synth pads at bay. Haunted aural arcades flash imagined memories against a verdure backdrop, conflating dreams with reality until the rain washes it all away.
Ivan Aguayo’s work is formidable. Elements of botánica del olvido may be familiar, but his own voice and approach continually shine through. I keep getting drawn back to the magnificent “el camino del agua” and its expansive landscapes. Aguayo draws a dotted line toward the horizon with rolling arpeggios and soft, expansive drones, creating an aqueous paradise where dreams and reality intermingle.
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