Nov 14, 2017

RhoDeo 1746 Roots

Hello, as our time in Argentina's music scene comes to an end we end on a high with one of the country's most interesting artists, Juana Molina would have been a household name if not for the fact the musicindustry and press rarely look beyond their immediate sphere, an artist like Bjork managed to break through that ceiling but than Iceland lies between the US and Europe, Argentina however is far away. Ironically as i was researching today's post i found out that she just had given a concert 'nearby' that night, bizarre synchronicity off sorts indeed.....

Today's artist is a singer/songwriter from Argentina whose atmospheric blend of folk, electronica, and experimental pop have brought her international acclaim. She has been acclaimed as a deeply original and visionary artist who, pulls off the most out-there material with melodies nearly as accessible as conventional pop. She has variously been described as pure genius, beguiling, and is said to be one of the most extraordinary singers around, who is creating a slippery soundtrack for the subconscious ......N'Joy

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Juana Molina was born to a family of artists in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on October 1, 1961. She is the eldest daughter of Horacio Molina, a popular tango singer, and Chunchuna Villafañe, a celebrated actress and model. She has a younger sister who has also worked as an actress and musician. The family lived in the central Buenos Aires barrio of Caballito. Her mother was a record collector, exposing her to various types of music. She began to learn to play the guitar at age 5. In 1967, Juana recorded her first song with his father, "Te regalo esta canción" ("I gift you this song"), as a gift to her mother for Mother's Day. Horacio Molina released the song as a single —without her young daughter knowing—which sold 45 thousand copies. She also performed the song live with her father on national television.

In 1976, the family left for Paris, France, due to the military dictatorship that overthrew president Isabel Martínez de Perón. While in Paris, she listened to what is now known as "world music" on French radio stations. In various interviews, Molina has recalled a visit to a Spanish hippie family friend who introduced her to Indian classical music, whose drones have had an enduring influence on her music. In 1981, Molina returned to Buenos Aires. To finance her architecture studies, she had various small jobs, including an unsuccessful experience as a backing vocalist in small bands.

As she could not make a living through music, Molina decided to find a job that paid well and did not consume much time. She decided on a career in television as the means to this end, and spent some months looking for a show that could use her services. She recorded a homemade audition tape for the studio and was offered a contract the same day. Molina began her television career in 1988 with the ATC show La noticia rebelde ("Rebel News", a word playon La novicia rebelde), where she would record one day a week and but get paid for five. Her popular sketches parodied Buenos Aires' women of various social classes. In October of the same year, Molina joined the cast of El mundo de Antonio Gasalla ("Antonio Gasalla's World"), led by comedy actor Antonio Gasalla. The show, which ran until 1990, further cemented her popularity as a sketch comedy actress and writer. The show was also performed live at the Teatro Gran Rex and in Mar del Plata.

The pinnacle of her success came with her own show, Juana y sus hermanas ("Juana and Her Sisters", a wordplay on Hannah and Her Sisters), which premiered in 1991. Molina arguably became Argentina's most popular comedian, having her show syndicated to other Latin American countries. Molina was dubbed "the new Niní Marshall" by the press, and won two Martín Fierro Awards. A compilation album of songs by Molina featured in the show was released. In 1993 Molina became pregnant with her only child, Francisca, and had to suspend her show. She found herself reflecting on her rapid rise to stardom and decided that her success on TV was holding her back from pursuing her music. She decided to cancel the show, even though it was at the height of its popularity; something that many critics would hold against her for years. She recalls: "There was a moment when I imagined myself watching MTV as a decrepit old woman (like MTV would last a lifetime), thinking 'I could have done that.' I pictured myself feeling an infinite grudge, hatred, envy."

Produced by Gustavo Santaolalla and recorded in 1995, Molina's debut album, Rara, was released in 1996. The album was poorly marketed; Micaela Ortelli of Página 12 wrote: "Never did an Argentine radio play a song from that album, – too pop to be folk and too folk, perhaps, to be radio material." Live shows were also problematic, as audiences expected her to act like on television. The album was better received in Los Angeles, United States, where Molina settled in 1998. Having learned how to record her music, she began to self-produce new material at the request of DreamWorks Records. Although the company ultimately did not sign her, these recordings would become Segundo, her second studio album. By 2000, she had finished recording the album and, back in Buenos Aires, she met Daniel Melero, who mixed the record. The music of Segundo was the result of Molina's new insights in timbre and her meeting with Alejandro Franov, who taught her "the endless sound possibilities that keyboards allow."

Electronic effects permeated Segundo (2003) to the point that they (the effects) became the protagonists of the stories, and the ethereal ambience became the ultimate meaning of those stories. Molina's whispered vocals are just one of the instruments, a sort of flute that meanders in a labirynth of audio tricks. African polyrhythms bestow a swampy, "forth world", disoriented feeling on Martin Fierro, with Molina's voice working almost like Jon Hassell's trumpet. The spacey vocals and the raga-jazzy arrangement of El Desconfiado evoke the hippy chants of the 1960s. The folkish lullaby El Pastor Mentiroso is like a deformed mirror image of Enya's music. Molina does not seem to hold on to a center of mass as she drifts from the mellow lounge muzak of Quien? to the bouncy pop of Que Llueva!, from the sinister voodoo dance of Misterio Uruguayo to the odd instrumental fanfare of Medlong. The longer pieces have time to unravel more than just a cute arrangement: the trippy downtempo shuffle of El Perro, the electronic bubbling and tribal dancing of Mantra Del Bicho Feo (virtually an instrumental), and the fast blues rigmarole and electronic jazz-blue jam of Sonamos. Molina's music found some success in Japan, and, to a lesser extent, in Europe. American musician David Byrne bought Segundo — intrigued by its artwork — and quickly became and admirer of the record. He contacted Molina, and she became the opening act of his American tour.

Molina sounded something like a colder Bjork on the more elegant Tres Cosas (2004). The anemic instruments did not do much to strengthen the fragile vocals in the tenderly waltzing No Es Tan Cierto and the ethereal nursery rhymes El Cristal and Salvese Quien Pueda, sunnier and more accomplished melodies than in the past. The renewed melodic emphasis is confirmed by Tres Cosas, despite the out of tune keyboards, and by the folkish lullaby El Progreso, while the wordless shuffle iUh! injects some rhythm into a fundamentally apathic act. Yo Se Que is instead typical of Molina's humbler and shier mode, in which both the vocal and the instrumental parts are hinted and not fully fleshed out, and even hijacked by alien effects. Her voice is protagonist of the hymn Isabel and of the lament Curame, songs that are as rarified as possible. The voice often manages to straddle the border between neoclassical and childish, notably in the piano-based aria Insensible that closes the album. On the other hand, Filter Taps is pure surreal ambience.

Son was a more organic and "adult" album, almost a return to the format of the pop song. She had rarely sounded as conventional as she sounds in Rio Seco and La Verdad, the songs that emphasize the melodic skills of the previous album. Molina attains a bizarre kind of enlightenment in the more atmospheric pieces, like the wordless Yo No that towards the end coalesces into an upbeat melodic ditty, or the feathery Son, drenched in dilated sounds, or the ecstatic wordless jam Un Beso Llega, that ends in sidereal vacuum.

Un Dia was at the same time more intimate, more abstract and more hypnotic, with the voice increasingly turning into an instrument and the rhythms increasingly turning into a voice. It starts with the minimalist repetition and the traditional chanting of Un Dia. It continues with the evanescent vibrations of Lo Dejamos (7:31) that segue into the hypnotic fibrillation of Los Hongos De Marosa and the gentle pulsating harmonies of Quien. These three lengthy pieces constitute the emotional core of the work.

Wed 21 (13) boasts a trio of lively effervescent songs: the boogie Eras, the samba Ferocisimo, and the android ballet Wed 21. But most of the rest, such as the Enya-esque Lo Decidi Yo, sounds inconclusive and messy. The longer El Oso De La Guarda has vocal and percussive elements that may be intriguing, but the song fails to merge them.

By several accounts, Molina is a a musical tinkerer whose sound is more the result of random results in the studio than of ordered composition. According to the Washington Post, the artist's goal was not to create more of the ubiquitous "hypnotic electronica," but rather something "distinctly sultry, insinuating and dreamlike," in which studio experimentation played a big part. "When I have a little idea, even before playing it once, I put on the tape recorder. I know there's going to be mistakes, because I don't really where to go and I'm not really sure how to get back, and I'm sure there's going to be something in all this that I'm going to like," Molina explained in record company promotional material. "And then I try to make it so all that has lyrics that go with that melody and meshes harmonically with this, that and the other. But I prefer to stick to that first footprint, which in the end is what sticks out in the piece."

Despite the initial negative reaction to her music in her home country, music critics have consistently championed Molina's body of work, praising her music and experimentation. In 2013, El País wrote, "she established herself as the star of the avant-garde sound of her country in the world." Writing for The Guardian, Robin Denselow called her the "one-time Queen of Latin chill" and wrote: "[she] has built up a global cult following as one of the most experimental musicians in Argentina.

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It's hard to compare Molina's sound to other artists, because it's so unique! In this ablbum, it has a kind of early 90's alternative sound in some tracks, vaguely reminiscent of The Sugar Cubes or Annie DiFranco or early Alanis or something. But then she throws in some absolutely gorgeous acoustic tracks that are serene, kind of melancholy and euphoric. The instruments are all skillfully played, harmonious, but best of all is her voice. Soft, gentle, melodic, serene, warm, wispy... the perfect accompaniment to the intricate music and the rolling, rhythmic, poetic lyrics. Her music can make you feel ready to relax, or ready to take on the world. Notably on 'En Los Dias De La Humedad' and 'Rara', the sense of airy beauty that inhabits Molina's later work peeks through.

Juana Molina - Rara   (flac  249mb)

01 Ella En Su Cuaderno 3:42
02 En Los Días De Humedad 3:20
03 Vergüenza Es Robar Y Que Lo Vean 4:27
04 Se Hacen Amigos 3:46
05 Hoy Supe 3:06
06 Rara 3:08
07 Sólo En Sueños 6:00
08 Pintaba 4:50
09 Buscá Bien Y No Molestes 4:20
10 Antes 3:25

Juana Molina - Rara (ogg  89mb)

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America doesn't have a lock on all the off-kilter singer/songwriters. Take a listen to the very individual Argentine Juana Molina. On her second album, she explores electronic and acoustic textures, treading through them like rooms in an empty house while inspecting details and corners. She's equally comfortable with detuned synths (as on "Medlong") or acoustic guitar ("El Zorzal"), but whatever she uses, her music keeps taking the path less traveled. Her unusual, minimal touches transport lovely melodies into different dimensions. Molina is like a Latin Lisa Germano: both make small, intimate albums and think outside the box. But originality should be treasured, especially when it's wrapped in glistening little melodies. Molina can have an almost childlike simplicity at times in the way her voice glides between the blips and bloops, although her sensuality comes to the surface in other moments. She utilizes minimal arrangements and the production might sound more like work from home than the big recording studio, but this naïveté suits the songs. There's an irresistible charm about both this disc and Molina's approach. Even if you don't speak Spanish, you'll still be smiling.

Juana Molina - Segundo (flac  355mb)

01 Martín Fierro 4:56
02 ¿Quién? 2:40
03 El Perro 6:42
04 ¡Qué Llueva! 3:52
05 La Visita 2:17
06 Quiero 2:40
07 Mantra Del Bicho Feo 7:58
08 El Desconfiado 3:08
09 El Zorzal 3:06
10 El Pastor Mentiroso 4:52
11 Misterio Uruguayo 4:20
12 Vaca Que Cambia De Querencia 3:48
13 Medlong 3:47
14 Sonamos 8:06
15 Untitled 6:57

Juana Molina - Segundo (ogg  148mb)

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Welcome to Juana Molina's world. It's a place of friendly funhouse mirrors, where reality stretches or contracts, where sounds whisper rather than assault, and melodies linger on the air. Sounding not a million miles from Lisa Germano fronting a muted Stereolab, it's also like a walk through a spring afternoon, where the sun is pleasant and not too strong -- just enough to refresh the spirit. The former actress has developed into a formidable artist, writing, performing, and producing this herself, and presenting her vision unedited. Her music might be low-key, and if you don't speak Spanish, her words mean nothing. But that doesn't matter. In the combed tangle of beats, acoustic guitar, layered voices, and synthesizers, she teases out strands of beauty that emerge and fall back like waves, as on the closing of "Sálvese Quién Pueda." She's unafraid of trying things, of putting unlikely elements together -- as on the loops that open the title cut -- to create something much more than the sum of its parts. Far more than someone like Beth Orton -- who seems positively conventional in comparison -- she's creating a new paradigm for singer/songwriters, with electronics an integral part of her sound, rather than an afterthought. She might not have the best voice in the world, but she understands how to use its breathy qualities, whether alone or multi-tracked. Above all, she's made her music into art, and moved confidently ahead from her debut (which looks tentative in retrospect), becoming one of the most individual voices around.

Juana Molina - Tres Cosas   (flac  284mb)

01 No Es Tan Cierto 3:10
02 El Cristal 5:03
03 Sálvese Quién Pueda 5:30
04 iUh! 3:13
05 Tres Cosas 3:56
06 Yo Sé Que 5:50
07 Isabel 3:00
08 Zamba Corta 2:22
09 Sólo Su Voz 4:02
10 Cúrame 4:54
11 Filter Taps 4:10
12 El Progreso 4:38
13 Insensible 2:53

 Juana Molina - Tres Cosas (ogg  116mb )

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A and B is a lost album in the discography of Juana Molina . A kind of collaboration with the multi-instrumentalist Alejandro Franov . The first part of this material is conceived as a logical continuation of the third disc of Juana, Tres Cosas (2002). Six songs that follow the path traced in their previous plates, simple lyrics and close to the everyday, sung subtly, between whispers and distortions that are accompanied by beats and acoustic touches that border on minimalism.

If this album is appreciated from that perspective, this first part pleases the connoisseurs of the music of this Argentine layer, but they are far from becoming exciting hooks or lasting pieces like Sálvese who can or Three things , rather we face sides b, extras from his previous production. It is not until we get to Kortz and Russians when the potential of this album begins to unfold.

Juana's comparisons with artists like Björk have always been the order of the day, although Juana has a sound intention of her own, just enough to find the common ground to tie the ends that separated both proposals. Kortz seems to be Molina's response to the Icelandic's grandiloquent Debut . More specifically, the song Airplane seems to be drawn in this piece in which Juana seems to sing in Russian.

If the previous pieces just left me happy, these two songs really got me to wake up my emotion and to draw a big smile on my face. Luckily they are only the anteroom of the second part with Franov, much experimentation and darkness; here is what I would call the darkest and most mysterious moments of a Juana who has always been eloquent and direct.

After these great pieces, Oberturando and Radar predict the experimental and logical continuation of the album. An indecipherable soundscape that plays with the rhythms and structures throughout seven minutes that become an entire experience. Rio Primero is a more upbeat piece with conventional lyric, and stereo games, an animated passage with slight overtones of folkore, typical of Franov.

The second part, as you can see, is directed by the themes, metaphorical lyrics and Franov's music. In this order of ideas, Pomelos Tree presents his countryman's choruses, as well as distortions and beats on an illustrative acoustic track. Dame Sol and Paseando el Mar close this collaboration of two risky artists, each one in his field. While Juana managed to make her career as a composer leaving behind the television fame, Franov makes use of his resources and creates instrumental music from an experimental and pompous perspective at the same time.

Juana Molina y Alejandro Franov - A & B (flac  213mb)

01 Idioma 4:13
02 Amigo 4:08
03 La Más Grande 3:07
04 La Marca 5:11
05 Kortz 2:32
06 Rusos 3:18
07 Obertura Y Radar 7:42
08 Río Primero 3:04
09 Árbol De Pomelos 3:39
10 Dame Un Sol 3:55
11 Pasando El Mar 2:37

Juana Molina y Alejandro Franov - A & B (ogg  85mb)

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Anonymous said...

Dear Rho-XS -

Thanks so much.

I know and love Juana Molinas more recent albums, but never managed to get hold of her earlier work. It's music of an intriguing and enduring beauty; I hope there's more to come!

Muchisimas gracias again,


Mick said...

Thats Ozzy Osbourne on picture 5, the one with the bony hands.