Your esteemed host is still fairly new to electronic music, so Cactus Y Volcanoes was quite an eye-opener. I can now say that I like Chilean minimalism, ambient, and electronica. Alta Infidelidad are the duo of Christian Dittmann and Jorge Cortés, two South Americans who really understand how to manipulate sound. Each of the tracks on the album feel fresh and mysterious; it's hard to predict what's going to come next, except that it will tease the ear. The album is very restrained - there are no harsh dynamics or raucous sounds at all - but because Alta Infidelidad use such a broad sonic palette they have created a consistently entertaining album. It sounds modern yet timeless. (Trite but true.)
It took me a few plays to get into it. It's an ideal album to play while doing something else so the sounds seep into your consciousness before you know it. My inexperienced ears still expect to hear a tune or a melody when listening to music, but Cactus Y Volcanoes doesn't play that game. Have a listen to Oeste, which starts off with seagulls and the incoming tide...wait a second or two and then your ears will delight in the gentle surge of a synth as it sweeps onto the beach in perfect time with the next wave - and then we move on to an unrelenting but beautifully engineered rhythm. Or try Canción De Cuna, which is like listening to an airport lounge with a spirit of its own.
The album is full of "found sounds" such as railways, bells, sighs, creaks and whistles, but they're all set in service to the music. It's one of the best engineered albums I've heard - everything is just so. I wish I had a better stereo system on which to hear it. Initially, some of the later tracks outstay their welcome (especially if you have to download them on 56K) but sooner or later you'll find that they've all got under your skin. It's a privilege and an education to hear music like this, something I would probably never have bought in a shop because there's always a risk of wasting my money - you may know the feeling. Now I know what this is like, I feel like buying some. Have a listen and see what you think, but remember to give the album time to grow on you - just like a cactus...
P.S. Your PC screen doesn't need a wipe (does it?); those flecks on the album cover are meant to be there.
Netlabel: (the marvellous) Thinner