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Friday, May 12, 2006

LISTENING POST

RECORDED

Juana Molina "Son"


Magical realism usually describes the writings of the great old men of Latin American literature, who have a knack for revealing the enchanted in the every day. Argentine musician and former television star Juana Molina shares the continent's mystical bent, and her fourth album, "Son," could be categorized as magical realist music; it is grounded in the prosaic strum of an acoustic guitar, but with an utterly otherworldly ambience.

Its first 10 seconds are like ambient electronica, the next 20 like Joni Mitchell. With flourishes of analog beeps and blips, it sounds like a child stumbling through a second-hand electronics store: warm, playful and a little haphazard. "Un Beso Llega," for instance, opens with a simple acoustic melody punctuated by electronic doodles before being submerged in a wash of sound.

Though Molina shares much with other iconoclasts experimenting at the juncture of folk and electronica -- most notably Animal Collective in approach, if not product -- she is clearly a Latin American artist. She shared a home with Brazilian musical greats Vinicius de Moraes and Chico Buarque when she was a child, and her singing style recalls the subdued delivery of Joa~o Gilberto's acoustic bossa nova recordings. Her naive quality also harkens back to Tropicalia greats Os Mutantes. Fusing simplicity of narrative songwriting with a fascination for sound, Molina is a singer songwriter for the electronic age.



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