The English language, for all its nuance and flourish, complicates where other tongues simplify. Madrugada is a Spanish word describing early morning: a tribute to soft awakenings before sunrise and the sensory worlds that surround them. Benjamin Poole’s upcoming full-length, streaming below, shares this temperament in name and nature. The Philly musician has crafted an experience that is as fluid and ambient as its title would suggest, with pockets of energy and wistfulness ignited between valleys of noise, absence, and above all else, full-bodied indie-folk.
Supported by seven other musicians — including selected personnel from contemporaries Friendship and Port Arthur — Poole’s debut LP is a robust listen, but never bares its teeth to challenge its subtle moods. However, Madrugada‘s finest moments exist when melody drops out in favor of texture. See “(something)”: a slow burn built on threaded piano lines and churning guitar. Its bridge is murky piano balladry, but eventually gets overtaken by a wash of feedback and a ring of static. This motif returns throughout the album — the tracks melt together in seamless ecstasy — to unify the opposing forces of lushness and the lack thereof. It’s what you’d expect from a nondescript time like madrugada: it’s a time of prayer (like the near-hymn on “Spirit Blues, Pt. II”), cautious silence (matching instrumental midpoint “The Eclipse”), and new beginnings.
With his debut, Poole has set the stage for a new dawn: a genre-agnostic take on a well-tread path, illuminated by pinpricks of light and blurs of possibility.
Madrugada will be released on January 19th via Hickory Lane Records.