José Duarte – CR Distopía
- Rec36 – Independence
- Rubber Bullet
- Pavas 2036
- Llegaron los huevos
- Killer Robot
- Cyber Police
- Digital Heaven
Growing up where I did, there were certain proclivities of my youth that lended well to an appreciation of ghost stories. Maybe not so much today, but at least growing up, the woods were crawling with them. I doubt that there’s been an abrupt advancement in the enlightenment of the area’s residents, but at least when I was younger, there were longterm residents of the region who were stewards of a long oral tradition of the creatures that haunted the forests and hills going back to the original Dutch settlers, and in some cases, even farther than that. You might know some of these stories by way of Washington Irving, a sophisticated urbanite who existed in NYC at the time when Wall Street had an actual wall to keep said stories out, but his tomes are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. This doesn’t necessarily have much to do with José’s record, but it serves as a good introduction of sorts by way of a couple conversations that came up when I first moved to Costa Rica – after all, when familiarizing yourself with your new crew, one of the questions that’s bound to come up typically is “so, what are the ghost stories like around here?” I am correct in that assumption, right? Is that weird? Should I even be asking?
Either way, here’s the answers I received. First, there’s the Segua – kind of a beautiful woman/demon hybrid who you meet on the road after drinking and are so smitten with that you’re compelled to marry her right then and there – only to discover the next morning that she is in fact a horse. Another example is that of “el perro negro” – a scary black dog with chains on it that follows you home when you’ve been drinking. There were a couple more, typically involving things you ought not to do while drinking as the moral of the story. Nothing along the lines of “and on moonless nights, some say you can still hear the fiddler on the bridge, playing softly, hoping to…” stuff where the moral of the story is that everything north of lower Manhattan is the domain of the devil and simply existing there is to know true evil and so on and so on. In comparison, CR’s ghost stories sound downright idyllic.
The same can be said for Costa Rican science fiction. To my knowledge, there’s been exactly one piece of contemporary science fiction based in CR – Kelly Link’s The Surfer, a story that explores a post-apocalyptic landscape where the entire world has gone to hell in a hand-basket EXCEPT for Costa Rica. Now, I know someone is bound to say that Jurassic Park took place in CR, but a.) imaginary islands off the coast and b.) the Jurassic Park portrayal of CR is downright terrible. Case in point, San José is nowhere near the ocean.
But here’s the thing: Costa Rica is not necessarily an idyllic place – if anything, it’s a pretty complicated locale to navigate since you get the tendrils of post-colonialism, globalization, modernization, neo-libralism, heavy seismic activity and some pretty nasty politics playing out in every country around it with the usual mix of endless wars, cartels, guerrillas, Marxists, CIA scandals, etc. And yet somehow everyone thinks it’s the Switzerland of Central America. But then again, it’s not like the actual Switzerland’s closet is free from skeletons, now is it?
Enter José. With this record, composed almost entirely of field recordings, he envisions a future where things may have gone a little too far in the name of keeping things pleasant – the point where dissent is silenced, corralled and sequestered – where the police/surveillance state that always seems to be only a disaster away have finally imposed their dominion. Where the veneer is still a-ok for the tourists and the cruise ships, but something sinister lurks just outside the reach of your scheduled eco-tour zipline adventure. To that, José writes:
Pavas 2035, the place and the year of a story in a dystopian world. On sector REC36 prisoners escaped to scream independence from the power of CorpNet 21, a cyber corporation that controls the government and the media. This is a fight against repression, overwhelming consumerism and extreme pollution. A confrontation of the day to day sounds of reality and the subconsciousness to attain the ultimate peace at the promised digital heaven.
Intrigued? Yeah, I thought so. Take a listen.
Mostly field recordings and custom instruments. VauxFlores synth in “Cyber Police”. Pure Data software synth in Digital Heaven.
José Duarte: Decomposer of sounds. Based in San José, Costa Rica. email@example.com