Jorge - Entre c​é​lulas (Album Review)

Looking for information on Portuguese experimental electronic composer and producer Jorge is fruitless. His recent album, "Entre c​é​lulas", is accompanied only by the cryptic statement that Jorge was "born and raised in the Portuguese alternative rock world" but that he now focuses on ambient-leaning electronic inspired by the works of Julianna Barwick and Brian Eno. Indeed, those influences are present in this hypnotizingly chilled-out and quite mind-bending collection. Yet perhaps Jorge's rock beginnings are on even more prominent display, with guitars being swapped for synths and songs being exchanged for music; there's a sharp edge to be found here amid the comforting textures. 

The delayed softness of new age "Pela manhã" is a thoughtful introduction to a variegated album full of twists and turns. "Sonhos telúricos" brings a great kick sound and Trentemølleresque mood together with performative vocalizations that are loud in the mix and express the more experimental side of this hard-to-pigeonhole project. This song sometimes feels aimless, yet goes on long enough, persistently, to prove it had already arrived at its destination. 

On "Para onde ir, senão aqui?" airy melodies and tones nucleate below a deep bass frequency before bubbling to the surface and meeting gentle percussion. The arrangement reinforces the theme set out in the artwork and song titles: ascension. Jorge's bio states this intention: "with his music Jorge aspires to touch the untouchable." Fittingly, there is quite a lofty sense of awareness throughout the eight personably mixed tracks. There are also, however, the turns of "A vida debaixo da pele", which ruminates around a simple but jarring melody, tiresome rhythm, and lack of dynamics and the barrage of sounds sprinkled throughout the tracks- sirenesque tones, gentle feedback, odd polyrhythms, and disparate synths that on occasion seem to struggle to harmonize. This sense of "filling the space" is perhaps one characteristic of Jorge's work that differentiates him from noted-influence Brian Eno. Where Eno is diligently economical and selective, Jorge draws from his roots to merge ambient sentiments with the more attention-grabbing immediacy of alternative rock. 

The pleasant slow trance of "Respira" and "Olhares sequenciais" could fit in on an experimental radio show just as well as an advertisement for a bank. That's not a muted criticism but a note of how these tunes have a wandering artistic sensibility while also a sense of utility and service to the listener. This is especially true of "Olhares sequenciais" with a dedicated beat, delayed electronic taps that hop about like springtails, and improvisational keys that occasionally hit strange notes. Elsewhere the enduring rock beat of "Entre duas células" allows the synth to wail out a pretty melody, albeit at hyper-volume, before peppering the drums with subtle fills and synergistically bringing everything together. So many sounds and experiments take over the mix in this track, as they do in the world-rhythm-sludge-rock-fantasy of "Quando a noite cai", and though it's sometimes hard to know where to look, the view is never boring.

There's plenty of variety on offer throughout this colourful collection. Though its mix of abstract electronica and sonically-experimental core may be an acquired taste, one is likely to find a sense of wonder and exploration in the trajectory of this delightfully off-centre album.