Germán Bringas / Tunel Hacia Tí / Smiling C

Germán Bringas` Tunel Hacia Tí is a terrific, towering release, that despite a cool interview / article by Andy Beta, on Bandcamp Daily, I think a lot of people might have missed. Smiling C`s Henry Jones, here, goes way, way, beyond digging for something to soothingly soundtrack the perfect sunset, unearthing treasure of a super spiritual kind. Stuff only ever issued in tiny numbers that stretched to a handful of scarce, home-made, cassettes – most of it actually previously unreleased. How Henry first discovered those tapes…I’m gonna have to ask*.

The set is a sneak peak at this whole other world, that existed, still exists, light years from the mainstream. One created by the Mexico City-based musician, who inspired by Carlos Casteneda`s “pop” shamanism, dropped out of the Conservatorio Nacional de Musica, ditched decades of technique and training, and instead sought to meditate and commune with nature. Moving to the countryside, he composed according to his gift of Synesthesia. Improvising to the rainbow of colours he could see. 

Returning to the metropolis, and the Portales neighbourhood, in the 1990s, Bringas established the live venue, Cafe Jazzorca, in the garage of his young family’s home. This centre of a somewhat secret Saturday night scene is now in it`s 27th year. Welcoming, hosting, guests both local and international. John Zorn, for instance, has graced its stage. 

The results of German`s musical vision / quest are amazing. Mixing post-classical chamber music with ECM-esque jazz. Where Jon Hassell-like hallucinogenic harmonies are honed on honking horns and handcrafted percussion. Bringas claims to have never experimented with psychedelics, and given his condition I take that to be true, but it`s hard to believe when you hear tracks such as the opener, Libre – where he surrounds his trumpet with trippy, spinning sound effects – reflecting his love of Sci-Fi scores – and synthesized slightly queasy, seasick drones. Subtly subverting new age`s shimmer for something uneasy, a ringer for LSD peaking. 

Bringas plays everything. Berimbau, what could be a “keytar”, marimba, piano, woodwinds, whistles, and a wide range of reeds. On occasion, blowing, blasting on a clarinet and a saxophone both at once. It`s these vibrating voices that define German`s sound. A featherlight fluttering, romantically reaching for Miles versioning Rodrigo, then squeaking, squealing, in sometimes strangled, anguished, thin, free serenades, atonal high-pitched, screams. Shouting, a wallop of Walt Whitman`s great yawp, for all they’re worth. Balancing these excited, exuberant, eruptions, by frequently falling to sublime, serene, moments of dolphin / whale like song. 

While “comprehensive” – i.e. long, and perhaps initially challenging – the double album is a definite “must listen” for fans of the damn fine musical archeology performed by the labels, Time Capsule and Music From Memory – synergising with sides by Mario Rui Silva and Gratien Midonet, and deserving of comparison to John Gomez` highly regarded Outro Tempo series. There is a strong, strong, sense of joy and wonder at its collective heart, that very quickly won me over. For example, Painani VII could be Lula Cortes and Novos Baianos whooping and happy hollering their way through a communal campfire sing-along. Its nods to traditional forms, and tumbling tom-toms, tap into something tribal. Whether that’s the nocturnal noise of a South American rainforest, or waves of racing, urgent, Indonesian, gamelan, counterpoint. Conjuring a collage of cinematic flashbacks, of stories, memories, not necessarily your own. Touching on ancient tales, to the root of a shared human history. Time-travelling through forgotten sequences, deep in our genetic code.

Germán Bringas`s Tunel Hacia Tí can be ordered directly from Smiling C.

*From Henry…..

“I saw Germán’s “Caminatas” tape on discogs.. I thought it looked really interesting – titles like “runner blues”, “stalker”… I went on Facebook and asked Germán if he had any spares.. he didn’t seem to think so.. but 6 months later, I went to Mexico City on vacation.. and stopped by Jazzorca for a show.. after the show, he gave me his last spare tape of “Caminatas”.. I loved it so much.. and when I got home I got in touch about doing a reissue.. I went back to Mexico 3-4 times and we’d meet up to look through his studio for other tapes/reel-to-reels that he’d done. I have probably 20 hours of material from him, haha! So maybe a Vol. II at some point!”

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