A mastery of the Spanish language is probably not required to get a sense of what a record titled Ritos de Paso might represent for Fer Franco; it is, unsurprisingly, a coming-of-age affair, one that tracks the Guatemalan producer’s journey through a vibrant series of sonic landscapes and musical collaborations. He takes us around the world in the process, starting with the increasingly chaotic opener ‘Ya No Vivo Aquí’. What starts as a pulsing krautrocker with polished vocals from compatriot Mabe Fratti descends into off-kilter jazz-inflected freakout; it suggests an estrangement from his roots in the process – perhaps unsurprisingly, with the track’s title translating as ‘I Don’t Live Here Anymore’.
Elsewhere, Latin rhythms meet thumping techno on the atmospheric ‘Asumir Forma’, blissed-out ambience enters the equation in the form of the quietly unfurling ‘Eliminar Lo Innecesario’, and there’s even time for Franco to revisit Manchester, where he formed part of the now-defunct shoegaze outfit Cosmos Collapse, by resurrecting an old vocal take from that band’s Gary Burton and building the gorgeous ‘Otras Voces’ around it. The sheer variety packed into just six tracks here suggests that Franco will not be easily boxed in moving forwards, but you get the sense that he is close to the sweet spot between meticulous songcraft and impressionistic flair – if this is the sound of him completing his rites of passage, then his musical adulthood, so to speak, is rich with promise.