Back in the late '80s, long before she signed with Domino Records and toured with Feist, Juana Molina was a famous television and sketch-comedy star in her homeland, Argentina. For those of us only acquainted with Molina through her trippy, subterranean sonic landscapes, imagining Molina the comedian instead of Molina the alchemist is a bit of a stretch.
Having long-nurtured a profound respect for all things dissonant, discordant, and un-tuned, it seems to have become Molina’s lifelong goal to make a cohesive whole out of conflicting parts. The eight tracks found on Un Dia are as much architectural structures as they are songs; with homemade loops serving as the foundation for each song, Molina doesn’t so much write songs as assemble them.
The title track is an exercise in opposing parts that when placed together create one harmonious whole. With a cacophony of voices whirling about, electronic stomps and pulses keeping tempo, and a frenetic synth-horn section, “Un Dia” is at once both a rum-soaked carnival and a surrealistic assembly line in another dimension, seamlessly functioning as both song and experiment.
In fact, Molina’s innovative home-recording wizardry is on full display this time around, making Un Dia both a natural progression and departure from 2006’s Son. While Son embraced Molina’s collage-aesthetic within the structured parameters of popular song, Un Dia finds her coloring outside the lines, and in doing so, producing sonic abstractions that are otherworldly even by her own standards. “No Llama” and “Lo Dejamos” explore terrains fit for an astronaut with skillfully placed shades of acoustic guitar, Mingus-esque upright bass and Molina’s endless supply of electronic whirs, clatters and clangs, not to mention her vocal interplay that is a walking study in multi-personality disorder.
To say that the eight tracks of Un Dia transcend their genre would be a misnomer. Molina has created a genre all her own, and Un Dia is its pièce de résistance.
Juana Molina's fifth full-length album, Un Dia, is being described as a bold departure from previous records. That's not to say Molina hasn't made these songs personal and visceral. Not only has she done that, but she's splashed more rhythms and tribal sounds all over the body of these tracks. An invigorating, trance inducing record full of energy that forces any person with a soul to feel alive with the spirit. The multifarious tracks weave in and out through cymbals and wood and bombo leguero, and sewed together with electronic intervals and a worldly mixture of Molina's lyrics. It makes for an inspiring and interactive listen. Some high profile supporters of her music have been David Byrne, NPR, and The NY Times.