Juana Molina | WIG176 | Released: 05/06/06
For her fourth, and most immediate album so far, Juana Molina of Buenos Aires, Argentina, has set about capturing her famous blue melodies in a style close to her hypnotic live experience, but with all the immaculate production values we've come to expect from the creator of the critically acclaimed Tres Cosas and Segundo longplayers. Juana Molina can, perhaps rather cheekily, be seen as kickstarting the new generation of performers who begin with their core group of instruments and a delay pedal, and take the relatively experimental approach of live sound-looping and manipulation to the pop-concert medium. Think Kama Aina, think Animal Collective, think KT Tunstall even...! She's definitely somewhere between these first two disparate musical landscapes, and I wouldn't be surprised if her powerful solo renditions of songs from last year, using exactly Ms Tunstall's sampling approach, have had an effect... Juana Molina never makes of this a trick, but more an effective and affecting use of time-delay for a sense of disorientation and twisting beauty, to heighten her songs' moods and structures. In fact it is an integral part of her composition process, this layering upon layering of polyrhythms, dissonant synth melodies, and effected voices. Her music is in love with texture and timbre, and despite its leftfield leanings it is a wondrous and accessible Song she sings. More and more people will fall under the spell with the joys of Son. Much of Son is propelled by compulsive percussive vocal tracks, not dissimilar to the avant beatboxing of Bodenstandig and then Bjork before her. This turns to something close to scat-singing at times, and shows us a more explicitly soulful side to Juana than we've seen before. We also hear samples of sounds unfamiliar from previous albums, particularly on 'malherido', where twangs of banjo-like acoustic guitar bend and blend awkwardly into the sub-housey rhythms of the song, and a childlike sense of play seeps into the bizarre, momentarily aural landscape. Yes those voices do sound like pigs 'oinking'. Juana seems to be sharing with modern contemporaries such as the Animal Collective, the musical adventurism of the Beach Boys' Smile and its forays into farmyard fun, as well as a vocal lushness that is pleasing to any ear.