If there were an ounce of justice in this fickle world, you wouldn't be able to refer to bands like Mogwai or Godspeed You! Black Emperor without someone reminding you that you'd failed to mention Migala. Sadly, such is not the case; rather than feasting with rock titans, the Spanish outfit is often labeled as Sub Pop also-rans. It's a shame, but listeners fortunate and diligent enough to seek out their records (particularly the crumbling, inflammatory Restos de un Incendio
) have been treated to some of the most relentlessly beautiful music of the era.
La Increible Aventura ("the incredible adventure") is the band's most realized effort to date -- a brilliant amalgam of dense future-primitive soundscapes and heartbreaking twilight flourish, bolstered by curveball arrangements and a sense of unified purpose. Migala records have always flirted with greatness, but for the first time ever, each player seems headed towards the same sunset, their plans to meet on the other side firmed up in advance so they may walk unafraid into the impending darkness.
As an album predicated on miniscule distinctions between storm and strife, La Increible Aventura can't help but feel like an exercise in spiritual cleansing, particularly for a group whose last outing left them on the brink of dissolution. The Star Wars-sampling "El Imperial del Mal" is flush with spaghetti western guitar stampedes and a billowing martial cadence, set ablaze by James Earl Jones's booming proclamation that "I am the master now". The breathtaking "Your Star, Strangled" is given illuminating life by Abel Hernandez's honeycomb howl. Blazing embers burn through the roiling guitars and wailing fury of "El Tigre Que Hay en Ti", and "Tucson, Game Over" effortlessly conjures such sandblown majesty that both Calexico and Giant Sand would probably love to call it their own.
Nacho R. Piedra's accompanying DVD of short films, one for each of the album's ten tracks, is a wonder unto itself -- a joyous and heartfelt rumination on a band returning from the brink of despair to find their destiny on the other side. There's an unsettling beauty in the imagery selected here ("Lecciones de Vuelo con Mathias Rust" being perhaps the most poignant example) that not only magnifies the intensity of Migala's songwriting and performance, but clearly establishes Piedra as far more than a sympathetic collaborator. He might well be Migala's newest member.
It's not until life unleashes all its harshness upon you that you can truly appreciate the spectacle of existence that surrounds you. Though it almost spelled their demise, Migala finally dropped the weight that had been dragging them down, and have discovered redemption and beauty in its place.