Futuro Conjunto, a wild speculative fiction about the music of the Rio Grande Valley
When science fiction and music go hand in hand, anything can happen.
Imagine finding a bootleg recording of a concert that took place at an abandoned rocket base in South Texas some 80 years earlier. Strange, isn't it? What if we told you that the concert was recorded in 2120 and you were a citizen of 2200?
And no, you're not on that reddish, dusty strip of land that separates the US-Mexico border. Or you are. Only the Rio Grande Valley no longer exists. This place has been called the Rio Cristal since a decade ago, in that imaginary future, a Second Mexican-American War took place that changed the geography and formed new, finished cross-border communities.
You find yourself inside a sci-fi multimedia narrative and music album where a group of bands that today are only canned memories -in fiction-, take the stage to envelop you in an archaic music for your character in that remote and futuristic future for you, player-viewer-listener:
"Astro-bachata", "palm wave" and "future ensemble".
Anything to fire your imagination.
This is the world presented by Futuro Conjunto, a strange work of speculative fiction that could mark a before and after in music, as musicians Charlie Vela and Jonathan Leal collaboratively created with 30 local artists what the Rio Grande Valley could sound and be like generations in the future and throw us right into it. A future that doesn't exist.
Like the best science fiction, Futuro Conjunto also leads us to reflect on urgent issues of our present, such as climate change, war, inequality or technology.
But what does the future in which the concert takes place depict for us?
A dark age known as the "twinkling century" (2020-2120), where the Rio Grande Valley has been ravaged by a hurricane and a war and colonies on Mars are commonplace, while global warming turns the earth into a hell and all kinds of religions proliferate to make life bearable.
In other words, a world where the only thing left is music. An album, Futuro Conjunto, for the creation of which Leal and Vela were also inspired by the region's past, paying tribute to its traditional music, such as the corrido, with a futuristic touch.
A sum of theatre, an interactive web, a speculative fiction story and animation that wraps an album.
We may be witnessing a new - quantum - way of integrating several arts into one thanks to the genius of Vela and Leal, who had already worked together on other projects, such as Wild Tongue, a compilation of local musicians.
In 2017, Vela also co-directed As I Walk Through The Valley, a documentary about the region's underground music scene.
On the other hand, Leal was immersed while creating Futuro Conjunto in his PhD in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University, for which he researched the musical narratives of the Rio Grande Valley.
In the interactive album they also explain their creative process and how they became hunters of the past and future of the Rio Grande Valley.