We all know the ballad «Bésame Mucho» (Kiss me a lot), one of the most covered songs in the last century. We don’t need more than few notes before we recognize this gentle melody and hum along it. But not many of us know much more about this song, written in 1941 by Mexican composer Consuelo Velázquez. Velázquez told that when she wrote the song she had never kissed, and kissing, as she heard, was considered a sin. She was inspired by the piano piece «Quejas, o la Maja y el Ruiseñor», from the 1911 suite «Goyescas» by Spanish composer Enrique Granados.
In some mysterious way, almost 75 years later, «Bésame Mucho» become a theme of a solo concert of Austrian experimental guitarist Burkhard Stangl, known for his collaborations with David Sylvain, Joëlle Léandre and fellow-Austrians Fennesz and Christof Kurzmann, This solo performance from 2014 at the Reheat festival at Kleylehof, Austria became the source material for the Viennese duo Chesterfield new album, «Consuelo». Chesterfield is Stangl and sound artist-composer Angélica Castelló (who was born in Mexico). Both have been working as Chesterfield since 2007. playing live-music to silent movies, free improvising, «curating and cooking for nice people» while collaborating in other, local experimental outfits (Zimt, Sqid, Scuba). On «Consuelo», Chesterfield took the live recording from 2014 and recomposed it, added new composed pieces, mixed everything with old and new recordings, home recordings, accidental recordings and live performances. «Consuelo» is Chesterfield diary of songs, of noise, of longing and dreaming..
Dreaming, indeed, is the key theme. «Consuelo», like «Bésame Mucho», relates to our imagination, the way we keep constructing and reconstructing our wishes, desires and memories. The fragmented, fragile soundscapes of «Consuelo» reflect passing memories, brief visions, unconscious passions and innocent fantasies, all doomed to end by sudden, often painful wake-ups. These alchemical, detailed soundscapes of succeeded to capture the rare dream-state sensation of ecstatic, emotional experience as a first kiss. Like dreams, Chesterfield gentle pieces are cryptic and enigmatic, but more often suggestive and cinematic, captivating with their seductive, passionate power. Fragments of the original theme of «Bésame Mucho» surface only briefly, mostly on «Recaliente». But this melody is already ingrained so deep in our shared that even a processed, mutated spark of this melody is enough to ignite the phenomenon of «Bésame Mucho». And
Chesterfield remind us that in order to understand this phenomenon properly, we should try to do so through the eyes of Joseph Conard, who thought of kisses as what is left from the language of Paradise.
Angélica Castelló (paetzold, rec, tapes, elec, c, viola), Burkhard Stangl (g, p)