A luminescent glow from a solitary tear in the night, the blood’s pulse under the full moon at the river’s edge, Paco Sala soundtrack the melancholy Other on Der Gast, their debut release for Night School.
The partnership of London-based producer Antony Harrison and Berlin-bound, enigmatic vocalist Leyli, Paco Sala have been constantly evolving since their debut releases on Digitalis in 2011: Der Gast points to a future troubled by mystery, sadness and is all the more thrilling for it.
Beginning with one of Paco Sala’s most straightforward pop songs to date, Der Gast blooms with Silverheel, a reimagining of neon-glow synth pop soundtracking a drive around the giant metropolis of the heart in a stolen Trans Am. Though miles apart, it’s clear that the synergy between producer and vocalist is close: The Guest invites a breathy vocal to curl around an abstract synth form to gorgeous effect. Throughout Der Gast, however, Harrison has stretched out and experimented, as fits the cassette format. There are abstracted R&B and Trap forms a-plenty on tracks like Slotter That Rep, based around a looped, delayed percussion pattern that builds to dissolution. The duo also delve into a lo-fi House music that slips in and out of focus as in 28.667. However, it’s tracks like closer T&L that ramp up the emotion, with Leyli’s Liz Fraser-esque vocal soothing and towering in alternative breaths. It’s an effect that isn’t straightforward: there’s no straight-ahead melancholia, sadness or euphoria, it’s an odd mix of all three and it works.
The sublime mixes with the teasingly intangible on Der Gast, as with much of Paco Sala’s work, with song titles hinting at an otherwordly personal language that with which Leyli communicates, but to whom? A Lover, an alter ego? Perhaps Der Gast is the creature we all run from but secretly are: the other, the outsider.