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Juana Molina - Son

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Artist: Juana Molina

Album: Son

Label: Domino

Review date: May. 21, 2006

Juana Molina speaks English well enough, and the recording credits that appear within Sonís gorgeously colorful booklet are in that language. But her singing and the albumís printed lyrics are all in Spanish. In concert, sheíll say that sheís turning the tables after hearing English-language music throughout her youth, but itís also a canny strategy to focus the listenerís attention upon the attractive timbres and melodies that the Argentinean singer and multi-instrumentalist has crafted for this marvelous record.

Son is Molinaís third album for Domino, the third that she made at home and mostly on her own, and her best to date; the songs are simultaneously more richly detailed and more succinct than those on Segundo and Tres Cosas. Her first record, released a decade ago in Argentina, is reputedly a fairly conventional product of conventional pop-craft methodology; get the chick in to strum her guitar and sing her songs, then wrap it up in flavor-of-the-month studio-hack backing. Its failure inspired the way that Molina has worked ever since; at home, playing and programming nearly everything by herself.

She is a deft manipulator of electronics, layering and shifting her flexible voice into complex, richly textured harmonies spiked with subtle dissonances. Molina sails nimble forays into whistling, scatting, and ersatz Indian vocal percussion that flow like the wind over a contoured landscape of old-school synth blips, acoustic guitar figures, pulsing, low-key beats, and metallic percussion treated so it melts into the keyboard tones. Field recordings, particularly of birds, drift in and out of the mix; despite the proliferation of electronically generated sounds, this record sounds like it was made with the window open, the breeze blowing, and the sun streaming in.

Molina spent part of her childhood in exile in Europe, and the Beatles and King Crimson spent a lot of time on her turntable; bossa nova sensuality, proggy architectural aspirations, and an unambiguous appreciation for tunes that stuck in your head are all part of her musical DNA. The electronic tones that predominate remind me more of Cluster or Boards of Canada. But the booklet and art, which depicts little girls riding a horse and her great auntís sumptuous dresses and embroidery, points away from music-as-music; it works in concert with the birdsong and the moments when Molina makes her voice sound like a catís to create music thatís not just about other music, but that feels connected to a world of relationships and natural experiences.

By Bill Meyer

Other Reviews of Juana Molina

Tres Cosas


Un Dia

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