Pura Sombar

I first became aware of Pura Sombar early this year. The first music I heard of theirs was the wonderful, single-track, EP Tongues Falling from an Open Sky – a drift on fragile harmonies through a hovering twilight. Not long after, I was gifted with copies of two physical releases of theirs.

“Chromatic Winds” was released in 2011 on CommA – although the website hasn’t been updated since well before this CD was released. Odd? Wait. The album packaging is gorgeous: a folded, die-cut sleeve (heavy paper? light cardboard?) with beautiful artwork on each panel. Enclosed with the CD are two more panels with very nice artwork on each side. It comes with an obi and the whole thing is enclosed in a sealable plastic bag. The only printed information is the group name and the album name. Neither of the artists use their real name anyway, so that really doesn’t matter. See? They all love a bit of mystique. But what’s most important here is the music.

The first track is a delightfully eerie, ominous collection of drawn-out sounds – some looped. It gradually builds to a nice swell before fading out. Track two begins with some wonderfully spooky tones and continues with edgy guitar drones over top that fade out after they’d said what needed saying. Then the lower register tones end the song with an almost visual note of satisfaction.

Track 3 is a slightly undulating drone that’s a great bed for the subtle volume swells (guitar?). A second drone enters a few minutes in and the swells become a little more insistant. The final track is a series of mournful cries over a bed of warmth and metal. After a bit, the warmth develops an edge and moves to the foreground, as the cries become more anxious.

I really like the restraint shown throughout. After several listens, I’m still not certain what instruments are generating all these wonderful sounds. I think that’s a good uncertainty to have.

The other Pura Sombar I received is self-titled – I think. The only text on it, besides the band name, is “entre 2 phases”. I’m presuming that’s the label but I can’t find any information about it. The packaging is a hand-made digipack with some very nice lithographs. (That may not be the correct word. If it isn’t, I apologize. My bank of graphics knowledge is quite shallow.) I’ve no idea where this release sits in the band timeline.

The music is one 33′ piece. It begins with plucked guitar notes over a drone. (The drone sounds synth-generated, but one can’t be sure with these folks). The plucked notes gradually become strums. Other sounds become noticeable by the 7 minute mark, and the piece begins to take on the feel of a rain-drenched flower garden gradually opening itself to the return of a warming sun. The guitar work becomes slightly more intricate but stays within the environment of the piece. People are starting to enter the garden.

The drone-based bed continues to evolve. A little past the halfway point, the guitar moves into a definable tempo and the music becomes upbeat. It’s a nice transition.

As the uptempo guitar moves into the background, the atmosphere slows to something approaching contemplation. The drone continues to evolve. Just past the 30′ mark, the music slides into a long resolve of satisfaction and calmness. A most pleasantly powerful song.

These are two of my favorite new (to me) music this year. Possibly THE favorites. I can’t thank the gift-giver enough.

Pura Sombar

addendum (07/30)
I’ve learned that “entre 2 phases” is the name of the CD and the newest item from the group. Apparently, I was given my copy not long after the release date. That’s pretty cool.

Also: I should have mentioned that all the beautiful art work is by one of the Pura Sombar members.