Music is very often a response or reaction to the world around it and it is quite telling to note that more and more music which appears in my review pile has something to say about the world around it. It is nothing new, rock’n’roll, hip-hop, punk, rave and grunge where all in their way a response of dissatisfaction to the world in which they found themselves, a message for change or at least non-co-operation. And in a way Ignacio Pena comes from a similar place, and as the name of his forthcoming album Songs For The Fall of an Empire suggests, he may not be so much rebelling against it but he is at least documenting our times and creating its soundtrack.
The song builds through the albums intro piece, With Usura, an evocative choral piece that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Karl Jenkins album before bursting forth into full, widescreen song mode. Music embracing such ideals, dealing with such narratives and story arcs is often found in the hands of metallers or progressive rockers, resulting all too often in something unlistenable or too full of its own importances. The Same Replies is neither of those things, instead it is articulate and intelligent alt-rock music and there is a succinctness and accessibility which implies that the album it comes from is probably less a concept album in the old school sense but rather an album of concepts. A subtle but telling difference.
And if you are going to build a musical record of these ever darkening, ever more chaotic and increasingly politically entrenched times, then this is exactly how it should sound, a mix of accessibility and mystique, energy and intrigue, a slight dystopian air and a sonic density which reflects the world around it.
As a first dipping of my toes into Pena’s music, I find it easy to imagine that he will be an artist I will be spending more and more time getting to know. Great music is reason enough to love what he does, but that coupled with a depth and poignancy really is the icing on the cake.