Tres Cosas

Juana Molina

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Tres Cosas Review

by Chris Nickson

Welcome to Juana Molina's world. It's a place of friendly funhouse mirrors, where reality stretches or contracts, where sounds whisper rather than assault, and melodies linger on the air. Sounding not a million miles from Lisa Germano fronting a muted Stereolab, it's also like a walk through a spring afternoon, where the sun is pleasant and not too strong -- just enough to refresh the spirit. The former actress has developed into a formidable artist, writing, performing, and producing this herself, and presenting her vision unedited. Her music might be low-key, and if you don't speak Spanish, her words mean nothing. But that doesn't matter. In the combed tangle of beats, acoustic guitar, layered voices, and synthesizers, she teases out strands of beauty that emerge and fall back like waves, as on the closing of "Sálvese Quién Pueda." She's unafraid of trying things, of putting unlikely elements together -- as on the loops that open the title cut -- to create something much more than the sum of its parts. Far more than someone like Beth Orton -- who seems positively conventional in comparison -- she's creating a new paradigm for singer/songwriters, with electronics an integral part of her sound, rather than an afterthought. She might not have the best voice in the world, but she understands how to use its breathy qualities, whether alone or multi-tracked. Above all, she's made her music into art, and moved confidently ahead from her debut (which looks tentative in retrospect), becoming one of the most individual voices around.

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