Paco Sala first came to fruition sometime in 2011 as Konntinent's Antony Harrison began exploring a totally different side to his musical personality. In many ways, Paco Sala is the complete antithesis of what Konntinent is. What is most impressive, though, is that while each project has its own, distinct voice, both are showcases for Harrison's incredible talent.
Following up the debut cassette, "Radial Sundown," that introduced Paco Sala as a new solo vehicle for Harrison's love of hip-hop, Italo-disco, & synth-infused pop music, Harrison joined forces with vocalist Leyli. And that is when everything changed. Leyli's voice became the perfect muse for Harrison's squashed productions, adding an elegance and airiness to the dark, heavy-handed crunch. This is most evident on the show-stopper, "Spiral." Leyli's voice is divine, streaming skyward as it twists into endless, delicate shapes. The plodding, hypnotic beat and tropicalia-infused loops are the perfect backdrop. This is the sound of being lost in a future dystopian Caribbean nightlife. It's stunning.
Elsewhere, such as album opener "Dumb Truths," Harrison whispers sweet, unintelligible nothings on a star bed of blown-out beats and melodic sci-fi synths. Crystalline drops are compressed into fluorescent neon highways on the bass-heavy "Legacy Edition" while the title track is a muddy excursion to an underground club where everything is about to fall apart.
Leyli slowly takes over the album's first single, "Gifts of the Bloom," with layer-upon-layer of wordless murmurs. Along with B-Side opener, "Tre's Future First," these two pieces show off Paco Sala's Italo influence with stunted dance beats and catchy, yet minimal, synths. It's the vocals, though, that continually push "Ro-me-ro" to another level and this is perhaps most obvious on the magical "Earn Your Stripe." This is as musically understated as any piece on "Ro-me-ro" with Harrison showing incredible restraint in his production. Leyli, however, knocks it out of the park, wrapping the song with an intimate warmth. As she purrs, "We were in the wrong place at the wrong time," nothing could be further from the truth. This is what it feels like to be home.
Original art by Marie-Pascale Hardy. Mastered by Brad Rose and cut to vinyl by Rashad Becker at D+M Berlin.