Johanna Orellana
Las Camelias, Tres Esquinas
Smalltown Supersound
LP (white)
Edition of 300 copies
Incl. VAT plus shipping / Orders from outside the EU are exempt from VAT
1El Jardín I 12:22
2El Jardín II 3:39
3El Jardín III 2:57
4El Jardín IV 4:57
5San Fabián 11:22

Flautist Johanna Orellana teams up with Carmen Villain for a collection of horizontal, pastoral field recordings and close mic-ed flute sounds that zero in on the instrument’s unstable resonance and levitational magic. There’s no cringe virtuoso business or fourth world firewalking here - just sonic purity, sublime minimalism and the precise capture of time, place and poetry.

You might have come across Johanna Orellana before if you’ve listened to Carmen Villain’s music (or seen her perform live), and Villain appears here in a producer’s role, using her engineering expertise to impart a level of restraint and sonic fidelity that’s quite startling. There are only really two central elements to the album: environmental recordings and flute. There’s no psychedelic delay, no cavernous reverb; no audible treatments at all - Orellana and Villain instead force us to consider the flute and its musical lineage.

‘El Jardín I’ introduces the instrument as a physical conduit; Orellana allows her breath to distort the sound - the padded pat pat of the keys forms a kind of rhythm, closely recorded so it’s amplified and jarring, linking to primal wind instruments like conch shells, bamboo flutes and wooden whistles. Recalling the way in which Debit interfaced with the ancient world using AI- assisted tech on last year’s ‘The Long Count’, Orellana uses a comparatively modern contemporary transverse flute, an instrument with roots that stretch back through the baroque era, into Medieval Europe, back to the Byzantine era and into Asia. The component that connects the instruments and eras is breath, and its amplification and modification through differently shaped pipes and vessels.

Orellana lets the environment sing: insects, rushing water and zephyr-like winds form a stage that presents her mortal energy, suggesting a harmony between our use of breath and its environmental ubiquitousness. Her technique is steeped in folk history and decouples itself from expectation by rooting itself in nature. It allows her to bridge the gap between equal temperament and less ordered (less commercially-focused) microtonality without overstating the concept. Other sounds waft in from the sidelines; what might be an Indian bansuri, stray notes, a gust of air.

There’s a link to the foundational new age recordings that Joanna Brouk made with Maggi Payne back in 1980, but Orelanna also absorbs the outdoor folk magic of Fonal or Stroom, and the improvisational grist of Bendik Giske or legendary US horn duo Nmperign.