by Joe Thomas
From the first seconds of opening track "Cintura #1"'s solitary and close-feeling percussion, Horoscope's third album feels like an immediate and intimate exploration of Rene J. Nunes-Cabrera's Cuban roots. There's no shortage of identity-focused work these days that explores a given artists' experience of their given cultural upbringing and socialization. While a lot of this work (understandably) hinges on themes of representation and empowerment, Horoscope's work on Carne. has a more complex and interrogative tone. The sonic choices he makes throughout his largely noise and drone influenced electronic pieces seem to probe the limits to which these cultural identities can ultimately define us.
"Descarga #1" introduces a basic conga groove before immediately disrupting it with discomfiting high-end frequencies. It feels like trying to get funky to your own tinnitus. As these disparate elements coalesce uncomfortably around the track's declarative vocal, their juxtaposition reminds us that our own sense of our personal histories rarely takes the form of linear historical events that fit us into neat categories of "self". Rather, our identities are often the site of clashing sensibilities, some inherited, some forged individually over the course of our lives. More so than any other song on Carne., “Descarga #1” embodies this ongoing tension between the roots that birth and tether us to this world, and the struggle to orient ourselves towards our future with some degree of individual agency, a struggle made plain as “Descarga's” increasingly strained vocal is eventually subsumed by electronic noise.
This tension is key to Carne. A tension between vibrancy and warmth, and a sense of austerity and grit. A tension between familiarity and nostalgia on one side (the short a capella "Corazon," for example, sounds like it could be a lullaby from a distant memory) and stranger, more exploratory territory on the other, e.g. the mutilated drones of "Violetas graphica". Nunes-Cabrera often twists and melds these poles to the point that his songs rarely feel like they wholly embody either of these sides. Nothing feels totally tied to a familiar past or an unknown future. Everything is some amorphous combination of both.
It makes for a really interesting and unique piece of work. Nunes-Cabrera succeeds in having his eerie meditations on nostalgia and self-realization resonate on multiple levels, creating a contemporary-sounding piece while channelling the echoes and whispers of history's ghosts.