Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Warning: those with low adjective-tolerance levels may wish to look away now.
My attitude to prose has always been: any colour, so long as it’s purple.

So it’s only the second listening thus far of Juana Molina’s new album “Son” but I feel it’s safe to say, with typical modest understatement, that my initial impressions were correct and it is in fact an UTTER MASTERPEICE and precisely what I wanted/wished and hey, even dreamed it would be.

Ironically, a few days after posting that these days everything feels faintly tinged with might have/should have been…the inevitable corollary of eclecticism being that everything tends to sound insufficiently like something else to be truly satisfying, along comes an album that sounds like nothing else and represents the fullest realization of an already hugely talented, (gulp) artist, an extension of and a deepening of her previous work.

Whereas Tres Cosas and Segundo were definitely collections of “Songs”, “Son” is much more like a suite, one long, emollient, pastel-coloured, vary-focus drift. The more orthodox structures of the earlier LPs have ruptured here or more likely been gently corroded from within (the Impostume!) by the thick currents of candy-coloured psychedelia that were lapping at the underside and edges of her sound from the start, a pink and sweetly corrosive fluid that here comes eating through the superstructure, partially collapsing it and gently carrying it away as along it all flows, twists, bends, warps, involutes, bubbles and overflows. Tracks melt into each like the colours in a block of softening Neapolitan ice-cream, the guitar surfaces and then recedes, snatches of melody dissolve into long, pitch bent glitch-riffled drones and off-key keenings, Juana multi-tracking her scat-sung vocals and scattering them through the mix, rhythms surging up to clatter and pulse, field-recordings leaking in, birds song , animals, mewling, a child at play.

There’s a maternal quality to all of Juana's stuff, (her mother is a famous actress, if that means anything) and the sense of a matrilineal descent, of songs written for and about mothers, grand-daughters and especially in this case, Juana’s daughter is strongly present in all her work ( “no seas antipatica con tu mama!”(don’t be cruel/unfriendly/hostile to your mum!) Juana chides her daughter on one track)) earlier tracks name-check her grandmother ( “ROGGUNFUGGINROLL!”) and somehow I’m always struck by the idea that Juana is trying to communicate with her child, to enter the world that poor old Agnetha had so much difficulty getting into in “ Slipping through my fingers”. All the usual “wombadelia” motifs are here, organic pulsing , uterine soft-focus shiftings , roseate womb-warmth and pre-linguistic, polymorphously perverse babbleogues of Chora-l crooning. If it’s reminiscent of anything at all it’s the worlds of “ Starsailor” and “69” and “ Bitches Brew” (and is the equal of those works. Sez me! Alright!?), worlds in which the boundaries have yet to solidify, the contours stand out sharply, or the senses separate. The world of the very young ( or the inveterate Ketamin and Special Brew abuser) where gravity is difficult to control and everything pitches and yaws away from you, where articulating a word is a mysteriously effortful undertaking of uncertain result and where, as of yet the sense of self as distinct from the world hasn’t taken hold. If Juana Molina’s stuff reminds me of anyone outside the sphere of music, it’s actually Dylan Thomas with his numerous attempts to somehow portray the very early, pre-linguistic stages of perception:

“All world was one, one windy nothing,
My world was christened in a stream of milk.
And earth and sky were as one airy light.
From the first print of the unshodden foot,
the lifting Hand, the breaking of the hair,
From the first secret of the heart, the warning ghost,
And to the first dumb wonder at the flesh,
The sun was red, the moon was grey,
The earth and sky were as two mountains meeting.”

“From Love’s First Fever to Her Plague”

Unreservedly recommended, and certainly worth two quid of anyone’s money. Hell; I’ll make an exception for something this good, let's push the boat out, I’ll go so far as say it’s worth three.

1 comment:

owen hatherley said...

i bought a copy of this for a quid in the salvation army shop in deptford. am not joking