Tachas 479 • Noisy geometry in full splendor of La Movida • Efra Paéz

Geometric splendor are the shot in the wrist of the move, as was Rimbaud in the wrist of Verlaine

Paul Cerezal[1]

Relegated to the status of a “cult band” within their country, praised and covered by industrial music figures such as Aphex Twin, Coil, Autechre and Chris & Cosey (a project of the former members of Throbbing Gristle), Esplendor Geometrico has been around for more than 4 decades generating harsh noises and energetic presentations.

They have managed to survive most of their famous generational companions, those who under the name of “La Movida” monopolized the Spanish cultural industry after the Franco dictatorship. Time showed that the liberation discourse that the groups of “La Movida” sold was nothing more than conformist hedonism and locutorio philosophy, but a few anomalous projects would be developed within it, with Esplendor Geometrico being the most radical of all.

Its leader and only founding member still active, Arturo Lanz met Servando Carballar in high school, with whom they would form Holoplástico, a techno-pop band that would give rise to Aviador Dro y sus Obreros Especializados, a group that in its beginnings was highly influenced by by postpunk and that copied the aesthetics and part of the industrial-apocalyptic discourse of the Americans Devo.

Aviador Dro soon abandoned its original postpunk mold and led to easy-to-digest synth pop, becoming one of the flagships of the aforementioned “movida”. Lanz would no longer be on that flight, who in 1980, together with two of the “specialized workers”, Gabriel Riaza and Juan Carlos Sastre, split from the group to create Esplendor Geométrica.

Although the name “Geometric Splendor” appears in a poem by the Italian futurist –and fascist- writer Filippo Marinetti, Lanz in an interview for Rockdelux (2010) clarifies that this was not due to any intellectual or ideological affiliation:

I did not choose the name of Geometric Splendor for intellectual reasons, but because it is beautiful. But it is true that Marinetti, the avant-garde… can make people believe that we are elitist. That interpretation can be given, but to deny it there are interviews and direct. Because there you do realize that we have very little intellectuals.[2]

Going through the more than thirty official albums and countless live and pirated recordings of Esplendor Geometrico would be a gargantuan task, but milestones and transformations can be recognized throughout his career.

In their beginnings they opted for industrial music with Soviet imagery, going through periods where they combined electronic music with Arab music and noise, a genre with which they are mostly identified. They are currently focused on what they call themselves 21st century tribal music:

My music, like tribal music, which I understand by that, has a function. It is not only the enjoyment of listening to it, but there is something objective that in many cases is that of concentration, not thinking about anything else. That’s what I aim for when I make music at night.[3]

The only thing that remains constant in Esplendor Geomático is its Do It Yourself production mode. Although they appear in record catalogs around the world, the majority of Esplendor Geometrico’s releases have been made by their own label, Geometrik, which changed its name and is currently called ROTOR discos.

They made their debut with “Moscú está gelato”, a single that to date is still the band’s most popular, but they never play it live, since they consider it to be an Aviador Dro song and not Esplendor Geometrico.

In this early period, their lyrics were sordid and their desire was clearly provocative, closer to punk than the “punks” of the scene, who were horrified by the fierce attitude of the Esplendors.

The group was rejected by the entire countercultural intelligentsia of the time, fearful that the radicalism of their proposal would spoil the climate of joyful creative freedom.[4]

The story goes that in 1981 they shared a studio with Alaska and the Pegaminoides, who hid a conservative mentality behind their “dark” aesthetic. Lanz ran into Eduardo Benavente, drummer from Alaska -and future leader of Permanent Paralysis-, who after hearing “Necrosis en la poya” was horrified and told Lanza:

What a shitty record you made, man.

To which Lanz replied:

Goodness. If you had liked me, I would have started to worry.

Juan Carlos Sastre left the formation in 1981, but continued to collaborate with the Esplendor Geomático graphic line. Now without a guitarist, the sound of the group becomes cruder and the lyrics lose space to give it to montages with political speeches and fragments of newscasts that -taken out of their original context- take on a decidedly disturbing aspect.

The ultimate goal pursued by the songs of Geometric Esplendor is for the listener to lose their identity. Do not think and fall into a trance to nullify any artistic claim or ideological message.

I have a problem recognizing artistic manifestations. Is a painting, a musical composition, a sculpture or a book more ‘artistic’ than industrial or aerospace engineering? Could we consider art to have harmonious relationships with other people, cultures and environments? Having said that, I believe that the barriers are artificial and I reaffirm that ART APPEALS ME, more than anything because I don’t see a clear concept of what it is… The truth is that industrial landscapes have never inspired me, and even less so to inspire economic theories. I have no sources of inspiration, I just leave my mind empty and enjoy the rhythms to the point of bursting.[5]

After releasing their first LP, “Héroe del Trabajo / El Acero del Partido” in 1982, they took a three-year hiatus. At the end of the 80’s they changed their sound towards something more rhythmic thanks to the Arab influences they acquired after long stays in Tangier and Melilla. As a result of this North African influence, two of his most praised albums emerged, “Sheikh Aljama” and “Arispejal Astisaro”.

From now on almost all their songs will be instrumental to give preponderance to the crushing and anti-melodic rhythm of the noise they created from their infernal machines.

In 1992, Saverio Evangelista, an Italian music promoter who had worked on the visual concept of Esplendor Geométrica’s live shows, joined the band. Soon Gabriel Riaza would adopt the Muslim faith and leave the group, which has since functioned as a duo between Lanz and Evangelista.

They abandon the Arabic vein and return to the sonic brutality of metallurgical sounds with “Polyglophone” (1997). The following year Arturo Lanz moved to live in Beijing, China, where he worked as a diplomat -before he became a lieutenant in the Spanish army and in China he has been accused of being part of a system of espionage against the government of said country, an accusation at which Lanz laughs – and runs a mini-chain of Mediterranean food restaurants.

Since then, the work of Geometric Esplendor has been carried out remotely, with Lanz in Beijing and Evangelista in Rome. They exchange sound demos and work online, but from time to time they get together to play live at different festivals in Eastern Europe, Holland, Germany and Japan, countries with a consolidated industrial movement, unlike their native Spain, where their proposal it is still a rarity.

Despite being around 60 years old, Lanz – who also acts as a singer in the few songs that have lyrics by Esplendor Geomático – runs around the stage, strips naked and howls at the top of his voice while hanging himself with the microphone cable. His show is often accompanied by disturbing videos of dictators and soldiers in grotesque attitudes. Evangelista considers that the Esplendor Geometrico concerts “are more like a certain type of rock than an electronic concert.”[6]

With 42 years of experience, Esplendor Geometrico continues to release new material and perform live. Lanz is proud that none of his ex-wives enjoy his music and that his teenage sons accuse him of making noise, seeing this latest accusation as a good sign.

It’s that if I listened to groups that do what I do, I’d go crazy, I don’t feel like it. In fact, I don’t even listen to what I’ve done.[7]

Lanz affirms that he is not aware of the contemporary aspects of electronic music, that cumbersome investigative work is charged to Evangelista. Although technological evolution has provided new instruments and programs, Lanz I don’t think they have changed the band’s sound to a great extent, since the concept is still the same as when they started: make anti-melodic noises and not intellectualize their records. So extreme is this decision that Lanz does not even choose the title of his songs, he leaves that work to chance.

Their latest studio album is “Fluida Mekaniko” (2016), but on March 14, 2019 they released their new single, “Clerencia”, which you can listen to here:

And for a selection of the best of Geometric Splendor (according to Spotify):

Fernando Escobar Paez (EFRA PAEZ). Quito, 1982. Caretaker and rescuer of fat cats. Devoted follower of Barcelona Sporting Club and The Flying Spaghetti Monster. He is currently working on his master’s thesis in Visual Anthropology. His poetic work has been partially translated into English, German, Portuguese, Russian and French. He regularly collaborates with various print media in the culture, politics and esoteric sections. He has published the collections of poems “Los Ganadores y Yo” (2006), “Escúpeme en la verga” (2013) and “Your return with breath to a bottle, a stuffed animal and another’s cock” (2018), and the book “anfibio” (micro-stories + poetic prose) «Miss O’ginia», which has been published in Ecuador, Spain (ebook), Chile, Argentina, Bolivia (cardboard edition) and France.
His texts appear in twenty anthologies of poetry and journalistic chronicles, both in Ecuador and abroad.

He’s worth three bundles of cock for the string of bullshit that is said against him.

[Ir a la portada de Tachas 479]

[1] Scriptwriter of the documentary Geometry of Splendor. El Asombrario & Co. 2016. “The musical terrorism of Geometric Esplendor becomes an image”. Interview by Rubén Caravaca Fernández.

[2] Rockdeluxe, 2010. “Geometric Splendor: Autarchy of rhythm and noise”. Interview with Arturo Lanz by Óscar García.

[3] rockdeluxe. Ibid.

[4] Newspaper The World. 2010. “Fear and disgust in Madrid”. By Jose Fajardo.

[5] The Sound Library. 2015. “Interview with Arturo Lanz, Geometric Esplendor” by Raúl Alonso.

[6] Newspaper The World. Ibid.

[7] rockdeluxe. Ibid.

Tachas 479 • Noisy geometry in full splendor of La Movida • Efra Paéz