Santa Elena, the debut full-length from ALA MUERTE (Astoria, NY's Bianca Bibiloni), is a rich, ethereal excursion filled with beautiful sadness. Conceptually moving from the apocalyptic to a state of new beginning, Santa Elena explores solitude and personal growth through melodic tension and environmental metaphor. Layers of guitar and vocals swirl beneath softly sung lyrics. Gentle vocal melodies float atop dissonant sound collages sculpted from field recordings. Tension ebbs and flows throughout, only to explode with the introduction of a full drum kit on the closing track.
This is one of the few records I've heard in years that at times approaches the desperation and doldrums conjured up by Nico herself. Throughout this album, Bianca is accompanied by ethereal and visceral female harmonies and noises that counterpoint and buffet her performances, as though some sidereal wind were blowing through her soul. - Julian Cope5/5