Five albums into her recording career and former comedic actress Juana Molina still shows no sign of pandering to commercial concerns in her restless pursuit of musical nirvana. Since finding her natural home with the UK independent label Domino Records, Molina has released a string of fine albums that have grown ever more daring and unconventional.
Molina’s music encapsulates the very essence of the here and now, with its seamless fusion of electronica, acoustic pop, and non-Western musical forms. This is music that knows no boundaries and refuses to conform to convention, and it is hardly surprising that she is beginning to tap into the audience of artists such as Björk and M.I.A..
The title track opens Un Día with a declaration of intent, Molina’s voice ringing out like an imam calling the faithful to prayer. The literal translation of the lyric, sung in Molina’s native Rioplatense Spanish, states: “One day I will sing the songs with no lyrics/And everyone can imagine for themselves/If it’s about love, disappointment, banalities/Or about Plato”.
Molina pursues this theme on the eight intangible pieces that comprise Un Día, with her lyrics reduced to abstracts and her voice operating as an integral part of the instrumental mix. To be honest she has never classed herself as the greatest singer in the world, and here she multi-tracks her vocals to create a blissful cocoon of whispers, sighs and murmurs that eddy around the listener’s brain.
Molina has stated that Un Día was conceived as a polyrhythmic record, with the intention of drawing out the hidden rhythms that had imperceptibly driven albums such as Tres Cosas and Son.
These percussive elements are brought to the fore on tracks such as No Llama and Dar (Qué Dificil), but there is a hypnotic groove winding its way throughout the whole of this album. Whether it is the electronic glitches of Lo Dejamos or the insistent guitar figure that drives Quién? (Suite), this album is positively alive with rhythmic intent.
What is most striking about Un Día is the immediacy of the music. On a first listen the complexity is apparent, but it is the melodies and harmonies that hook the listener straight away, circling around each other before swooping into ever more playful forms.
This is an adventurous and beguiling record that eschews the abrasiveness of Björk’s more esoteric albums in favour of inviting the listener to explore its deeper reaches alongside the artist. It is time the world caught up with Juana Molina as she pursues her magical vision.