▶ Dieciséis | Concepción Huerta
Perfume is an ambient music space co-produced by Mexican Jihad and LABOR in which the productions of Nick Hook, Camille Mandoki or Imaabs / Hybrido have previously been released.
Perfume takes place at the physical space of LABOR in between exhibitions. Benefiting of those moments when there are no artworks installed in the gallery, the exhibition space becomes ideal for one to lie down on the mats and, thanks to the power of ambient music, be transported to a mental state where one can open the perceptions of the subconscious. Becoming a space where you have the opportunity to return to those days where -with your eyes closed and headphones on- you could easily slide into an album and escape while it played whole. Today, with the distractions and thought processes of the world, taking time to listen to an entire song is almost considered a heroic act. The appeal of ambient is like a scientific experiment, when executed correctly it makes time elastic and malleable.
Ambient music in the last century was an alternative way of formulating music, a way of repeating established divisions of gender, style, culture, or even the notion of what music was. There are several ways to explain the path of ambient music, starting with Debussy and extending onto club culture nowadays. We could say that ambient music begins in 1889, a century after the French Revolution; Paris celebrates its Universal Exhibition in which, for the first time, you were able to experience exotic music brought from the East (Japan, Bali, Indonesia, etc.) first hand and without having to leave Europe. It is in this context that Claude Debussy attends an Indonesian music concert in Paris. That sound moved him deeply and made him discover sounds, rhythms and melodies from oriental music which he absorbed and incorporated into his own compositions for Western listeners and performers, and whose sound he defines as follows: “it is not limited to a more or less exact representation of nature, but to the mysterious affinity between Nature and Imagination”.
Therefore, ambient music is a way of listening, rather than making music. Ambient music in the 21st century can be music to help you sleep or music to take you away from sleep. This is the reason why, under the big umbrella that concerns ambient music, we find names like Erik Satie or John Cage. But it might also be dance music thanks to stars from the club scene such as Four Tet, Aphex Twin or Jon Hopkins, who have introduced features of electronic ambient in their musical productions.
The term ambient was born from a thesis formulated in the mid-1970s by the British musician Brian Eno, an essential figure in modern pop music. “Ambient music has to be able to adjust to various levels of listening attention without imposing itself on any: it has to be able to be ignored as interesting.” This sentence, which is the classic definition of this music style, appeared in Environment 1, Music for airports, Brian Eno’s 1978 album that originated a genre that has evolve up to create a whole universe. Until then, ambient music was very easy to ignore, background sound, music made to cover uncomfortable silences in elevators and consultations. In the United States, it was discredited by calling it a muzak. But Brian Eno spoke of ambient music as a perfume or a dye, something that can be subtly infused and cause mood swings without being perceived. Something that allows you to stay and escape. Perfume continues what Satie, Cage and Eno started and invites you to find, through music, new ways of listening on your own.
Perfume 16 presents a mixtape created by Concepción Huerta, a Mexican sound artist, musical composer and photographer. Her work emerges from harmony, exploring dissident sounds that ultimately create narrative atmospheres of circumstances, emotions, and ideologies. She is interested in turning such narratives into physical and conceptual influences.
This mixtape, titled “Inner Reflection”, explores the various sound approximations of artists to achieve unique and personal narratives. The atmospheres created by Concepción transport us to powerful and creative places that shine from the use of the voice, as well as acoustic and electronic instruments.