On their debut single, “True Colors,” the electronic duo Abuela (that’s Spanish for “grandma”) experiment with minimalism and ancient instruments. The group formed when Evan Mast of the New York experimental synth-rockers Ratatat joined up with Justin Roelofs, guitarist for the Kansas rockers the Anniversary, and they decided to head to the highlands of Peru to collaborate.
“We had set up our studio in a little cabin behind the village of Coya in Peru,” Mast tells Rolling Stone. “We were right up against the mountains, so we’d spend the mornings hiking through these incredible landscapes and then come back and record music after dark. We were spending a lot of time at the Incan and pre-Incan ruins, too. There’s so much mystery surrounding these incredible structures. If you talk to the locals, you’ll hear endless, fantastic stories about how and why they were made. Some of the stonework simply cannot be explained, so the theories can get pretty wild – ancient Incan laser technology, giant pre-human beings, levitation, UFOs. . . It was a great primer for making music.”
The ancient inspiration left a mark on “True Colors.” The track opens with shimmering notes that are supported by a cracking, 1980s-style drum machine loop. The song gets trippier as sci-fi sound effects are dropped in and Mast and Roelofs sing in a smooth, removed coo, filtering their tones until they sound like robots. Finally, the track ends with Peruvian pan flutes providing the coda, fittingly merging the future with the past.
Abuela’s “True Colors” seven-inch will be released on February 4th via Canvasclub.