Juana Molina’s ‘Wed 21’ an ecelectic clatter of spooky sounds

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The charming-but-enigmatic Juana Molina plays by her own rules.
To the consternation of her fellow Argentinians, she walked away from her popular comedy TV show in the 90s to start a family, then decided music was her true calling. There was a seven-year gap between her first and second album. She’s come to realize that performing her indie folk and electronica compositions in a live setting poses a challenge because she gets bored with just playing along with layers of pre-recorded loops. The signnificance of the title of ther latest offering, “Wed 21,” is merely the date the title track was finished. The video for the lead single, “Eras,” is creepy with a capital “C.”
In spite of Molina’s quirks, her voice remains appealingly mesmerizing like an ethereal, soothing siren beckoning and compelling the listener through an eclectic clatter of spooky sounds. She sings in Spanish, so when she coos a “come quickly” refrain in English on the “Eras,” it commands attention.  Molina performs at Boot and Saddle on April 17.

Part of “Wed 21”’s appeal lies in trying to figure out where Molina is taking us. The sonic landscapes she creates must be complicated to arrange, yet the melodies and song structures breezily float along — subtly changing up rhythms, bringing different instruments to the fore at unexpected moments, whether a harpsichord, synthesizer, the gutiars, the bass, drum machine beats, hand percussion or the electronic effects.

Juana Molina. Photo by Marcelo Setton

Juana Molina.
Photo by Marcelo Setton

“Sin Guia No” starts out with a postmodern, dissonant guitar loop, later offset by a pretty picked loop. “Ay No Se Ofendan” is propelled by murky, backwards-tape-sound electronic loops. “El Oso De La Guarda” features a bizarre keyboard/electronic interlude in the last minnutes that evokes feelings of being marooned in space. The closer, “Final Feliz,” is based on a series of guitar chord changes that build in complexity, tempo and intensity to the point of nearly galloping out of control.
Just how in the world does Molina relate these ideas to a live audience?

WHAT: Juana Molina
WHERE: Boot and Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St, Philadelphia.
WHEN: April 17
INFO.: Learn more at www.juanamolina.com. More information at www.bootandsaddlephilly.com.

Follow Brian Bingaman on Twitter @brianbingaman.

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