Key Track: “Em Algum Lugar Dentro de Nos”
Dunas, a name that translates to “those sand dunes” from Portuguese, is a Brazilian-based band featuring the ambitiously experimental Francois Veenstra. The band, normally a Portuguese-singing, straightforward band, ventured way out during a contemplative period and instead recorded an improvised, instrumental, ambient EP. “Boas-Vindas” is four tracks and roughly thirty-three minutes of an improvised story.
The album’s opener, “Em Algum Lugar Dentro de Nos,” is an extremely peaceful work. It’s very ambient, and centered around an echo-y guitar and various nature sounds. The song, especially it’s first half, gives an aura of satisfaction and sounds like enjoying a nice spring day falling in tune with nature. Much of it sounds like it’s recorded from within a cave, with it’s swooping, almost wind-like rhythms.
Since it’s improvised, it’s tough to know if Dunas had planned for this EP to have a real storyline, but it seems to have a narrative of descent. If “Em Algum Lugar Dentro de Nos” is peaceful and feels like laying on the forest floor, watching the sky, “Por Favor, Por Favor” feels like becoming too engulfed. The song’s airy and faux-futuristic rhythms might seem like falling asleep comfortably on the forest floor, but is more akin to letting yourself get overtaken by the nature around you. It’s also a relatively peaceful song, and the lightest on the EP, but it slowly seeps into one that isn’t, through the sound of things getting disconnected at the end.
“Boas-Vindas” feels like a descent into a gritty underworld. Its immediately abrasive, back-and-forth dissonant piano rhythms are a stark difference from the first two tracks. The song feels like a bad dream; or seeing the ugly side of nature. If it starts in a cave, it ends deeper down, in darkness. The song’s title roughly translates to “hearty welcome,” and that’s what it resembles – an unwelcoming welcome. Other synth rhythms pile onto the early ones, and play until the noise settles into something less intense but no less loud – as you get more accustomed to it. The short outro, “Motion Picture Soundtrack,” follows in the previous song’s volume and drone-like tone.
The EP all flows together, as if it were one long song. This helps to enhance whatever sort of increasingly dark narrative hides behind the ambient music. The EP slowly goes from peaceful to forceful, and does both very well, especially when you factor in the improvisation. “Em Algum Lugar Dentro de Nos” is engagingly warm, and it makes the slow descent into noise all the more powerful. It is best appreciated with headphones on, to take in the full ambient effect. “Boas-Vindas” is a strong and weighty ambient release, so let it wash over you.
The band has produced a set of videos to accompany the EP’s lengthy tracks. You can watch the video for “Em Algum Lugar Dentro de Nos”
-By Andrew McNally