By Aldo Benítez
At first listen, and without delving too deep into the cd liner notes, “El amor es un francotirador” (Love Is a Sniper) sounds like familiar, female singersongwriter fare, somewhere between Mazzy Star and PJ Harvey. The music, however, goes beyond any easy comparison, coming out of an original theatrical composition with an intriguing back story.
Lead singer Lola Arias and Ulises Conti form the original band for the show by the same name, “El amor es un francotirador,” written, directed and interpreted live by Lola Arias on stage. The record, released on the Metamúsica label, is the soundtrack of the play that features Arias in the leading role. With Arias as both songwriter and vocalist, I found myself wondering why a vision and interpretation that´s essentially femenine is presented by both “Lola Arias & Ulises Conti”?
WUBA posed the question to the duo and Ulises responded, “We created the music without asking ourselves how female or male it would be. Making a record is a unique experience, a process that takes you through different stages. It`s like being in a lab where you discover the formulas that give shape to a sound that´s inside you.” Lola expounded, “I don´t define art as female or male. “El amor” is a record, sung by a woman, with lyrics about a cowgirl who has a horse called Rainbow and crosses the plains with a gun in her hand. This pampean heroine is fictional and bares little resemblance to me or Ulises.”
Speaking with WUBA, Arias explained that songs with lyrics are positioned to alternate with instrumentals, giving the record a certain rhythm and shape that coincides with the play itself. “Throughout the play instrumental songs and songs with lyrics alternate with live music by Ulises Conti on electric guitar and Andrés Ravioli on drums. All the actors sing the songs, the musicians are two more characters on stage playing from behind a video screen.”
Lola explains that the soundtrack is a piece of a larger whole, “In this sense, “Love is a Sniper” is a not a `lounge theatre piece.´ It´s performance art that exists somewhere between a rock concert, a delirious bit of choreography, and an art installation. The piece is a work made by a group of artists from different disciplines, those who make up the group Postnuclear Company; Alejo Moguillansky (cinema director and co-director of the piece), Luciana Acuña (choreographer), Leandro Tartaglia (visual artist), Ulises and me.”
Ulises clarifies the role of the soundtrack in relation to the live work. “The record is the soundtrack to the live theater piece, but at the same time it’s a piece of art in its own right. Going to see the live show and listening to the record are two entirely different experiences, they produce almost the opposite effect. Personally, the idea of communicating through the abstract, rich language of music has always been seductive to me in that you can reach people on a whole other level.”
Lola describes the start of the project: “In the melancholy winter of 2005, I wrote a song called “Love is a Sniper” and I showed it to Ulises. At the time there was only a part of the lyrics and some bad acoustic guitar chords. Together we developed the concept of the music for the theater piece. Ulises gave it more complexity and composed additional instrumental pieces.”
Ulises says, “The record varies between instrumentals and songs with lyrics, giving it a sense of duality, it´s something we were conscious of from the start of the project. There´s a latency brought to light through integrated sound on a differential plane. This languid soundscape is the pulse that defines the character of the record as a whole.”
The duo plans to continue working together, Lola says, “Future projects are still in the conceptual phase. Some have yet to take on a concrete shape, some are more defined. We are working on a new theater piece with the same theater group called “My Future Life” that will be premiered in 2009. It´s a play where a group of actors rebuild their parent´s youth in the 70´s.”
To celebrate this cd release, the band presents material from the album, featuring Lola Arias on vocals, Ulises Conti on electric guitar, Pablo Dacal on bass, and Andrés Ravioli on drums. September 12th and 19th at 12:30am at Thelonius Club (Salguero 1884, Palermo, RSVP: 48291562).