Jul 09, 2021

Nova Materia | New album ‘XPUJIL’

XPUJIL by Nova Materia is a 40-minute journey through an ever-changing, organic world where the boundaries between music, natural sound and psycho-acoustic trance are erased.

Nova Materia: hypnotic dance music

Frenchwoman Caroline Chaspoul and Chilian Eduardo Henriquez were both members of alternative rock group Pánico, and went on several world tours with them. Their aim with Nova Materia is to create a powerful, hypnotic music, something they achieved on 2018’s It ComesEmploying ghostly sounds and a repertoire of instruments made of raw materials from metal to rocks, the duo create soundscapes that are both highly rhythmic and dreamy, somewhere between post-punk and electronic dance music. The pair have always been active in multimedia and performance art, pushing the boundaries of various disciplines through collaborations with visual artists, filmmakers, writers and directors.

XPUJIL: un voyage transcendant à travers la jungle

The project started with a walking trip taken by the Nova Materia duo (Eduardo Henriquez & Caroline Chaspoul) through the Mexican jungle, towards the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Xpujil. Under scorching heat, amidst omnipresent insects, dense and sinuous vegetation, and the cries of animals, they access a different, haunted world, which feels almost sacred and supernatural. The living beings of the forest (humans, animals, plants) are there without being seen, they are mostly perceived by the ear. And then, the ruins: this great city, which was a major political, scientific and religious centre in the Mayan kingdom, is still partly entangled in the jungle, but the pure, almost futuristic architectural design of the buildings is striking.

Throughout the trip, Nova Materia recorded the surrounding soundscapes with binaural microphones. Upon their return to their studio in Paris, these recordings became the foundation of this new work. They processed and transformed the sounds until melodies emerged, which they then enhanced by using sparse instrumentation (gongs, ocarinas and electronics). Different textures were added with contributions by two guests: New York-based musician Ikue Mori (of DNA fame), who has often worked on electronic reinterpretations of the world of insects, and adventurous cellist Gaspar Claus (who collaborates with musicians across all genres, from Rone to Jim O’Rourke).

The Xpujil project will be developed (in partnership with la Gaîté Lyrique) across several mediums and platforms, ranging from a simple binaural experience with headphones to a full immersive audiovisual live performance, an interactive website, and a regular series of binaural livestreamed performances, with contributions by invited musicians and writers. Initial performances are scheduled for the autumn of 2021.

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