Following releases for a number of labels including Blue Note, Apollo (R&S), Project: Mooncircle and Five Easy Pieces, and production for Fatima’s debut album Yellow Memories on Eglo Recordings, Natureboy marks the start of a new chapter for London-based musician Dario Rojo Guerra. Having produced as Flako since 2007, Natureboy is both his debut album and a bridge to a new musical identity, one that has been bubbling under the surface since he fully moved away from his roots in MPC-produced, sample-based instrumental hip hop on 2012’s Eclosure EP for Five Easy Pieces.
Recorded over a few months between February and April 2014, Natureboy retains the influence of South American soul, folk and cumbia he absorbed as a child growing up with German and Chilean parentage. Nevertheless, it’s also an album fully created with recorded instrumentation, synthesizers and vocals, a fresh body of work primarily exploring his interest in the natural world. “I’m not religious,” Guerra explains. “Nature is the only thing I really believe in. The sun and water are the two things that I find worth worshipping. There’s nothing without the sun, and there’s nothing without water.”
Building on the kaleidoscopic mix of digital tones and enveloping instrumentation of 2012’s Eclosure EP, the musical influences scattered throughout Natureboy are much broader. As well as being inspired by jazz musicians like George Duke, Bo Hansson, Jaco Pastorius, the exotica of US musician Eden Ahbez and the Brazilian sounds of Hermeto Pascoal, Natureboy reflects Guerra’s interest in the synthesizer compositions of Vangelis and Tonto’s Expanding Head Band. “I was keen to create balance,” he explains of the balance of vast ambient soundscapes and energetic percussive moments flowing through the album like swelling ocean waves. “To me that means creating sonic balance as well as a balance in mood or energy. The whole album is like valleys and mountains.”
The music throughout the album is underlined by the constant presence of Guerra’s own voice, which weaves an abstract narrative throughout the album. In “The Opening/Purple Trees”, he draws inspiration from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s idea for his film Holy Mountain, while “Who Do You Think You Are” offers a spoken word reflection on reality. In “With Me Now”, featuring the vocals of Dirg Gerner, the vocal presence simply offers a straightforward meditation on personal loss. In other tracks, his vocals are fed through effects and synthesisers, creating hyper-digitised choral textures and complex harmonies.
Though Guerra performed almost all of the music on Natureboy, he drafted in composer and arranger Miguel Atwood-Ferguson to play strings on “Twelve O’Clock Shadow”, adding a symphonic dimension to the album’s self-contained universe. It’s a universe with a strong visual element too. Overseen by Tom Balchin and illustrated by Radek Drutis, the watercolours and surreal figures making up the album’s cover help to complement on the dreamlike imagery flowing through Natureboy.
In “Shipibo Icaro”, he finds inspiration in the ritual songs of the Peruvian Shipibo people’s healing ceremonies. Supposedly taught to the Shipibo shamans by plant spirits, the icaros are used to bring on the visionary effects of ayahuasca, take the effects away, call in different plant spirits, call in the spirits of others or the deceased, take away dark spirits and dark energies for protection and manage the ceremony. Natureboy may be created by primarily digital means, but it’s an album just as in touch with spirituality and the natural world as the Shipibo, a rare example of the importance of being in balance with our close surroundings in a more hyper-connected age.
“Impressive and outstanding hybrid sound that is both visceral and cinematic. Flako’s ability showed breadth from day one and this is the LP that proves it.” – Bleep
“Stunning Debut Record” – Gilles Peterson
Also available Kuku (Maxi-Single) 12″ Vinyl or Digital which includes 2 Non-Album Exclusive Tracks. More Details here