Philadelphia-based experimental guitarist Mitch Esparza returned with a new EP this week. Released under his ME project, MEMO is the followup to previously released MEEP. Folkadelphia host Fred Knittel once described Esparza as a “scrapbooker,” reinforcing the statement by saying “a scrapbooker not only has style, but a strong, distinctive vision for his art, which totally describes Mitch.” While the quote is from early 2017, the descriptor still holds true today.
Samples of bird chirps can be heard throughout the 6-track EP, noticeably on “Byrd.” While the song title isn’t slang for the chirps in the background, Esparza rather pays homage to artist Donald Byrd by sampling his track “Cristo Redentor.” Esparza samples, loops, and slightly distorts the Byrd track throughout, but the lo-fi distortion might be due to something else. From the bandcamp description, Esparza notes “All songs and sounds recorded on Mitch Esparza’s phone in lots of different places.” Maybe the iPhone “Voice Memo” app is the inspiration for titling MEMO, perhaps a collection of recordings from various places, pieced together to create a cohesive project.
The only track to feature vocals is the final one, featuring guest contributions from Ambr. Two notes ominously teeter back and forth while Ambr’s near-inaudible vocals occupy the frequencies between, shrouded in swirling crackles and distortion. After nearly 30 straight minutes of guitar and samples in the EP’s previous five tracks, the vocals come off as stark and urgent, but fitting. Not quite a post-thought, but rather one final chance to get a word in before the close of the EP.
Esparza recently performed at The Random Tea Room this past July, and sat in with Krautrock pioneers Faust at their recent Underground Arts gig, but no future live dates have been announced. Keep an ear to the ground, consult the concert calendar every once in a while, but in the meantime listen to MEMO in full below.
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