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Juana Molina - Wed 21

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 18 / 11 / 2013

Juana Molina - Wed 21
Label: Crammed Discs
Format: CD


Uncompromising and unsettling but compelling sixth album sung in Spanish from Argentinian singer-songwriter, Juana Molina

If you are of a contrary nature and you’ve read any of the glowing reviews for Argentinian Juana Molina’s sixth album ‘Wed 21,’ the chances are that you are going to give the album a wide berth. We all use the music that artists put out there for different reasons; each listener can interpret the same album in totally different ways. At times music can be too clever, too demanding even, to be appreciated by the masses but when critics pretend to understand every word, every sound on an album as complex as ‘Wed 21’ it can turn potential listeners to look elsewhere. It was looking like this music wasn’t going to say anything to me. Juana Molina makes beautiful but, at times, scarily unsettling sounds. There are few words, this writer will confess, that I can understand across the eleven songs on ‘Wed 21’ the album being sung in Spanish, so I won’t make any wild claims that I can relate to anything Molina is singing about. So after reading pretentious review after pretentious review and knowing that lyrically this was an album that I wasn’t going to get anything out of, I didn’t really approach listening to ‘Wed 21’ with any relish. So let’s cut out all the pretending to even having the slightest inkling as to what was going through Molina’s mind when she not only wrote every song on ‘Wed 21’ but also when she performed all the sounds and produced the set herself. Molina is obviously one talented young lady, and as her songs don’t exactly follow any of the songwriting rules we are familiar with it is testament to her talent that, while ‘Wed 21’ is actually one of the most original and uncompromising collection of sounds you are ever likely to have heard, it’s still strangely inviting and accessible. Molina’s upbringing obviously has had a major effect on her music. After the military coup of 1976 in Argentina, her family fled and lived in exile in Paris where they stayed for six years. Listening to a couple of French radio stations playing music from around the globe expanded Molina’s interest and outlook on music. Although, on returning to Argentina, Molina intended to pursue a musical career she found herself auditioning for a TV program where she got hired immediately. Later Molina was rewarded with her own comedy show, and within the space of just a few years her popularity soared making Molina the most popular comedian in Argentina. Half a dozen years later Molina suspended her show due to a pregnancy, and realized that her heart was still in music. Turning her back on a successful comedy career was a brave move, but Molina’s folk influenced music wasn’t an overnight success. Molina released her first album, ‘Rara’ in 1996 to a lukewarm reception. It took a couple more albums (2000’s ‘Segundo’ and ‘Tres Cosas’ from 2004) before Molina started to get international recognition for her unique brand of music. Mixing elements of folk, electronic and ambient was nothing new, but Molina really pushed the music to its limits thereby creating a personal and distinctive strand. ‘Tres Cosas’ was in The New York Times ‘Top Ten Records of 2004’, cementing the fact that Molina had touched a far wider audience with her mesmerizing soundscapes than any other artist following a similar path. Soundscapes such as Molina creates usually only appeal to a certain audience, especially when everyone who is introduced to her music can’t appreciate the lyrics. But Molina avoids this by simply creating such beguiling melodies, melodies that you simply don’t expect to find on an album by an artist who is so strongly out of left-field. Molina’s vocals are like white, fluffy clouds. They float in and out of these songs and are truly an instrument on their own. ‘Ay, No Se Ofendan’, for all its trippy electronic trickery, is a showcase for Molina’s vocals. The whispery almost disturbing sound of Molina’s voice is what really makes this track the most interesting one here and really needs to be heard. Although ‘Wed 21’ comprises of eleven very separate pieces of music, the album is best taken in one sitting. Each song flows into the next seamlessly, listening to the album, especially on headphones, can evoke feelings of your worst nightmare (but one you simply have to keep revisiting) or float you away to that special place with its dream like passages. All too often a musician is labeled as being unique but rarely is. Molina is the exception. This is music that is impossible to place in any one genre, but that displays beauty, wonder and emotion from start to finish. ‘Wed 21’ is, in all honesty, an album that, despite some lengthy and extremely wordy reviews, is impossible to describe on paper. It needs to be heard. Don’t let all the disturbing and unsettling references ‘Wed 21’ attracts let you pass up on this album. It is disquieting at times, but it’s also one of the most beautiful pieces of music you are ever likely to hear and is surprisingly undemanding.

Track Listing:-
1 Eras
2 Wed 21
3 Ferocisimo
4 Lo Decidi Yo
5 Sin Guia, No
6 Ay, No Se Ofendan
7 Bicho Auto
8 El Oso de la Guarda
9 Las Edades
10 La Rata
11 Final Feliz
12 De Algun Instinto Animal

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live reviews

Roundhouse, London, 13/1/2007
Juana Molina - Roundhouse, London, 13/1/2007
At a very special evening at the refurbished Roundhouse in London, Dominic Simpson enjoys a very special evening of folk music from long lost 60's cult star Vashti Bunyan, San Fransicans Vetiver, Argentinian Juana Molina and London folkie Adem Ilhan

digital downloads




Son (2006)
Excellent lo-fi electronic folk rock from former Argentinian chat-show host and comedian, Juana Molina

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