Sunday, June 13

Héctor del Barrio: Hache Milton, the man who drives the algorithm crazy | Madrid


Anyone who walks through the vinyl shelves in Héctor del Barrio’s living room (Madrid, 44 years old) can end up very disoriented on the foot of our host’s limping. Except for reggaeton and other overt aberrations, this collection is quintessentially an almost 360-degree perspective on the history of music in Western civilization. “And whoever snoops in my playlists on platforms already loses track of me forever. I can hear back to back Bach, AC / DC and Miles Davis, and it’s literal. ” That melomaniac voracity is what makes Hache Milton, the alter ego Hector, one of the most unique characters on the Spanish pop scene. So much so that his solo record debut, the recently released He does not go anymore, has surely become the most heterogeneous, diverse and unclassifiable album of the season.

MADRID, 05-25-2021.  Terraces in the Plaza de Ramales.  To the left, the Café de los Austrias, to the right, the Taberna de Ramales.  PHOTO: LUIS DE VEGA

The invincible terrace in the center of Madrid

‘Tránsito’, the drama of exile turned into opera

Hache acts as a man without haste. He has been a musician since his early years and has enriched groups with laudable pretensions and rather humble depths (Carlo Coupé, Látigos Calientes, Funxplosion…) while writing and storing his own songs in the chest of drawers. When he wanted to get rid of them, “out of an almost urgent need to share them,” he found himself in the position of selecting from a mountain of candidates. Six of the 12 pieces that have ended up being accommodated in their premiere date back to 1996 and 1997, “the years I was studying Sociology but spending entire afternoons in the rehearsal room was much more fun,” he recalls with a laugh. The other half a dozen materialized during the pandemic months, as a relief to the uncertainties of confinement. Both are indistinguishable: there are no thematic or musical traces that allow them to be located at one point or another in the biography of their signer. In fact, they all have in common, although it sounds paradoxical, a single ingredient: they have very little resemblance to each other.

Urban or Latin rock, classic or air pop folkies, psychedelic with a view to the seventies, happy saucy manouche (From sunrise to sunset would make any summer beer advertiser fall in love), forays into the blues and even a hint of bossa (say) in perfect Portuguese. Everything in the universe of Hache Milton is eclectic, timeless and legitimate, without a doubt, “but admitting that each piece is from his father and mother.” Del Barrio does not succeed in determining whether that incurable eclecticism of his makes him unmistakable or unmistakable in the ears of the fans, but he hopes that heterogeneity ends up serving as a common thread. “Sorry, there are too many things I like,” he ends with a charming and enthusiastic smile.

Giving up anonymity was only a matter of time, he admits, as much as humility and modesty have led the redhead to camouflage himself under a pseudonym. He is said to be “limited” in terms of vocal and instrumental resources, although he has ended up acting as Juan Palomo in his small home studio in Galapagar: almost everything we hear in He does not go anymore it comes from his fingers or vocal cords, except for drums and percussions, which he delegated to the experienced Gonzalo Maestre (Marlango, Jacobo Serra, Fon Román…). The bands are more fun, yes, “but they always have something of a bad marriage,” he assumes with resignation.

Its most distinctive feature – and in that it shows that we are not dealing with a millennial creator – we end up finding it in the texts, very far from that lightness of pop interested in love affairs and everyday pleasures. Philosophy and even metaphysics are filtered through the pores of this songbook, rich in allusions to the passage of time, transience, finitude. “It does not become an obsession, but it is an issue that matters to me. Have you noticed that in Bon Jovi’s songs, although they don’t interest me too much, they always end up talking about roses? Well, in mine, the recurring theme is death… ”.

They will be things of the age, it is inevitable. Del Barrio assumes that his forties have made him “more serene and wise,” as well as reasonably pessimistic. “I distance myself more from things or, at least, I keep my blood from boiling all the time, like when I was in my twenties,” he smiles. You have learned to deal with life’s setbacks, setbacks, treacherous illness. His voice trembles when the conversation comes to the fore the fight to arm of a person very close against a cancer “of the damn”. Suddenly he stops, fixes his gaze, and makes a leit motif categorical: “Living is cool, despite everything. So much”.

Entre Nietzsche y Donald Trump

How is a song born? In the case of Hache Milton’s, from inspirations as heterogeneous as they are unexpected. Return, for example, outlines Nietzsche’s philosophical theory of the arrival of the superman from his own knowledge. Y He does not go anymore, which opens the album and has ended up giving it a title, reflects the stupor of its signer “about the world in which we live, the political sainetes and the trumps Y ayusos of the life”. During the height of the pandemic, he listened to the then president of the United States on the news and could not explain “how such an abject and terrifying character had come so far.” That is why he chose the pejorative meaning of the phrase. “If I wanted to talk about nothing more, for the better, I would refer to the Beatles’ discography!” He exclaims, amused.

Now he is preparing the arrival on stage of his new and old compositions, first in a duo format (together with the guitarist Luis Palop “Tersites”) and later in a trio or quartet. But there will always be generous gaps in Hache Milton’s agenda to “continue to devour almost any kind of music.” Even rap, an incipient weakness of Jara, his daughter. “He is six years old, but very talented. One day he started chattering around the phrase ‘La Navata, the school that kills me’ and we ended up recording a rap between the two of us. The teachers had so much fun that they ended up turning it into a kind of unofficial school hymn… ”.

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