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(Leaf Records)

Unless one has an unlimited budget and a lot of time on their hands, there's hardly any way to keep up with all the good music released in a certain year. Martes is yet another album that I missed from the year 2002, and like many I've discovered past the fact, it's a highly enjoyable listen, mixing ambient electronic with a touch of glitch and even classical elements. While it's dense at times, composer Fernando Corona also seems to be acutely aware that it's important to let things breath as well, as the majority of Murcof moves with a steady hand, letting lovely string plucks shudder, and other rich sounds swarm into your ears.

You don't have to look any further than the opening track on the album to find such a combination, either. "Memoria" starts out with spare piano notes that reverberate far off into the distance while some quiet electronic blips (some with juicy sub-bass) offset it before a click-hop beat gives the track a backbone and lush strings slowly build. "Marmol" takes much the same approach in terms of sounds, but achieves a much different end result. After opening with some slightly tweaked piano and swarming clicks and pops, eventually a thick beat starts pulsing away underneath as the track again slowly builds in its hypnotic way.

At over 50 minutes in 9 tracks, a majority of the album works in that slowly-weaving way. "Maiz" builds up from string strains and springy, manipulated string plucks before again launching into a click hop beat while cut-up stirs whir and pop back and forth. The ghostly chorus of "Mapa" is especially nice, sounding like filtered Gregorian chants layered over the top of squirty beats and a warbly low end.

The most accessible track on the album, and the one that you'll most likely play for all your friends soon after getting the album is "Mir." After starting out with a slightly manipulated plucked-cello melody, some subtle beat programming creeps in and other string elements drift in over the top. Eventually, it all sort of folds back in on itself and takes off with a juicy low-end beat that wouldn't sound out of place on the ~Scape label while another manipulated vocal part soars over the top of it all. Like some of the other tracks on the disc, it has enough swagger that you might find your toe tapping to it, or even wanting to dance a bit. All in all, it's a damn fine album, and if you're into cinematic-sounding electronic music, this should be right up your alley (imagine John Williams Vs Pole and you might be somewhere close). If this is just a debut, mark down Fernando Corona as another talent to keep an eye on.

Rating: 7.75