PAU RIBA – Dioptria (1970)

Review by: Andreas Georgi
Album assigned by: Jaime Vargas Sánchez

This one is a bit difficult to review. I honestly had never heard of this album, Pau Riba, or anything in its genre. I have mixed opinions of it, but it’s not without its charms and interesting points. The first thing that stands out obviously is that it’s sung entirely in Catalan (or is it Mallorqui?). I do speak Spanish, and that helps me understand at least a bit of the song titles and the lyrics, though honestly not enough for me to get a true sense of their meaning. The language barrier is not a problem – I listen to stuff sung in various African and Asian languages which I don’t understand at all! I like the sound of Catalan being sung, which is a nice distinguishing feature. What I am lacking completely, of course, is the lyrical, cultural, and musical context for this music. It was released in 1970 and sounds very much like a product of its time (good and bad). On some of the tracks I get the impression that the vocals are delivered in an ironic, tongue-in-cheek out of tune fashion, but I don’t know what that’s about.

The music itself is basically folky psychedelic rock. I said it was a product of its time, but quite honestly I think even by 1970 standards the rock stuff sounds somewhat dated and clichéd sounding. The slower stuff is much better and more distinctive, and seems to draw on sources beyond just Anglophone rock and folk, which I would be interested to explore. “Noia de Porcelana” is one the songs that comes to mind as a highlight, though it’s hard to write in more detail about individual tracks. Overall it was an interesting listen. There’s a big world of music beyond your comfort zone – go explore it.

This review is also posted on Amazon here.