Daniel Diaz: Swan Song

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Daniel Diaz
Swan Song
(DedeLand Music Co )
Review by Tyran Grillo

On Swan Song, producer and composer Daniel Diaz plays acoustic and electric basses, guitars and pianos, vibes, hang, harmonium, percussion, accordina, charango, ukulele, and synths, along with 15 guest musicians from four continents, to depict a world uniquely his own. It is a culmination of his many talents, showcasing his meticulous attention to detail in every respect. That Diaz has spent much of his career as a composer writing for film and television will come as no surprise as the strains of “Otoño y Martes (Love Theme No. 1)” fill the air with their song.

There's something sweet yet also dark about it that would feel right at home in a Pedro Almodóvar film. On its own terms, however, the music combines soft atmospherics with sharply defined melody. Tunes like “Os Historicos” and “Ganímedes” don brighter clothing and speak to the strength of memory in Diaz's art. Still, it's the sensuous uncertainties of “Romántica Cromática” and “Tristesse Collateral” that reveal the album's dominant underlying language, one suited to solitude and reflection.

From there on, Diaz mingles genres, influences, and impressions with artisanal care, bringing sincerity to the classical (“Erik Satie's Farewell,” notable for Olivier Manoury's bandoneon overlay), jazz (“Same Old Song,” a ballad boasting the tender altoism of Bobby Rangell), electronic, (e.g., the vocal sampling of “Antefinal”), and ambient “Harold's Lake” (noteworthy for the blossoming cello of Diam Jarry) with consistency of spirit. There are so many exquisite moments along the way that to catalog them all would be exhausting. Suffice it to say that, whether plucked like sonic fruit in “Alexis Luminoso” or airbrushed through the flugelhorn of David Lewis in “Resumé (Swan Song),” Diaz and company speak with their hearts as much as their minds.

Though this album is the capstone of a trilogy, preceded by The Years Alone (1995, Green Linnet/Xenophile) and Segundo Ciclo (2002, Timeless Records), it lives by its own manifesto. It's a peaceful one, whose tenets are best expressed in the five “bonus” tracks that end the album, and which reveal equally personal facets of an artist who speaks of his love for travel through tunes like “Palermo” and “New York Polonaise,” taking listeners through a veritable flipbook of his experience with a humility that can only come from a worldly soul. - Tyran Grillo

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