2022 / Milvus
Review by Kathy Parsons
Hugo Selles' Butterflies is a fascinating and very beautiful album of original music inspired by paintings by Sara Fuentes. I had assumed from the title that the music would be very light and carefree, but that is definitely not the case - it goes much deeper than that. All of the titles of the pieces are the word for "butterfly," each in a different language. The choice of which languages to use was done by taking into consideration the musicality and pronunciation of the word in relation to the character of each piece. There is plenty of variety in the seven tracks that include solo piano, spoken word poetry, and ensemble works.
Hugo Selles has created a very impressive body of work in the ten years that he has been releasing albums and singles. In addition to releasing music under his own name, the Spanish pianist, composer and producer is a member of many different ensembles and projects that span a broad spectrum of music genres. The first three albums of his that I reviewed were with Psychic Equalizer, a colorful ensemble that Selles founded. He is also half of Duo Otero, a multiple award winning classical piano and cello duo. From prog-rock to classical to ambient and beyond, Selles is both passionate and fearless in his approach to his music - something I have the utmost respect for.
Butterflies begins with "Papillon," the French word for "butterfly." An elegant yet mournful piano solo, it sets the melancholy tone for the album while reaching deep with its delicate beauty. "Ikinyugunyugu" is "butterfly" in Kinyarwanda, a language of Rwanda. Recorded with Esteban Bolado, the music is performed on a variety of exotic instruments that give it a unique sound. Rhythmic yet incredibly sad, it's a very compelling piece. "Mariposa" (Spanish) also features Bolado, this time on violin, with Selles on piano. Slow, open, and very dark, this one has a tragic feeling about it. "Pinpilinpauxa" features Julio Ceballos reciting his poem by the same name (the Euskera/ Basque word for butterfly). The ethereal accompanying music is a combination of piano and keyboards. Even though I don't know much Spanish, it's a very moving and effective track. "Kelebek" (Turkish) includes an unusual collection of ethnic Middle Eastern instruments and drums - a brief jaunt to another part of the world! "Sommerfugl" (Norwegian) is the second piano solo on the album and is darkly mysterious as well as very spare - almost ambient. "Rama-rama" (Malay) features a haunting violincello lead played by Miguel Diez accompanied by keyboards and drums - an incredible close to an incredible album!
Hugo Selles has become one of my favorite artists over the past decade, and this album is an excellent indication of why. A true artist, he never fails to impress! Butterflies is available to download or stream from Amazon and Apple Music/iTunes and is also available from many streaming sites such as Spotify. Don't miss this one!
April 12, 2022