One Day, One Night

In the video created for “Un Día” — the title track from Juana Molina’s exquisite fifth album — the face of the Argentine singer appears in murky amber light, looking like a withered but joyful extraterrestrial matron with huge eyes, tiny mouth, and distended forehead. The funhouse-mirror effect is simple but, with Molina as object and subject, it becomes multifarious, outlandishly hypnotic, and a wholly relevant reflection for her work. Foreswearing choruses, bridges, and verses, she creates complicated worlds of sound loosely inspired by Uruguayan tango, King Crimson, the roar of her grandmother’s elevator, and — in the case of her previous album, Son — the staccato call of Argentina’s national bird. Despite all this, Molina’s lissome vocals are inescapably danceable, even poppishly coquettish, drawing comparisons to Björk, Portishead, and other atmospheric voluptuaries. Her use of an ancient Argentine bass drum called the bombo legüero has made Un Día her most groove-driven album, even while it is arguably her most experimental. As usual, she has produced, recorded, and mixed the material, as well as played every instrument, employing a system of loops and synths that must be seen live to be believed.

Amy X Neuburg & the Cello ChiXtet open.
Sat., Aug. 22, 8 p.m., 2009

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