Imagine Radiohead (post OK Computer). Now imagine them in Spanish. What you essentially have now is Argentine folk artist Juana Molina, especially on her new record. There's a distinct depressiveness in the oddity of all the music on it. Juana Molina's Halo has a very unique sound to it that seems familiar but in reality is out of this world.
I'm not too well-versed in the nature of Argentinian music, but if Juana Molina is any indication, there's some weird stuff going on there. In music, that means good stuff. Halo is a very bare-bones record, but there's something ominous about that factor that makes it captivating. Opening track 'Paraguaya' kicks the record off on a very creepy note, the metallic synth sounding almost spidery and the vintage sounds following Molina's wispy vocals. There's something unsettling about it all, but that's enough to capture your attention.
You really get Radiohead vibes from a good portion of the record. Something about the semi-optimistic and far-out synths of songs like 'Sin Dones' and the guitars of 'Cosoco' gives it that vibe. You half expect some mangled shriek from Thom Yorke to appear out of nowhere. There are many interesting instrumental ideas going on throughout the record that give it this edge, too. 'Lentiìsimo Halo' has this slow and creepy synth vibe going on where the synth just drones quietly, always watching. This is the first song that really distinctly has a Radiohead vibe in it. The spacey sounds of 'Caìlculos y Oraìculos' also helps achieve that "flying through space-debris" vibe you get from the more ambient Radiohead tracks.
Halo isn't just weird, spacious, ominous textures. Towards the end of the record, things do start getting a bit more full sounding. 'Los Pies Helados' has actual percussion in it that gives it a very driven vibe, and is full of layers of guitar and vocals. 'A00 B01' follows up with weird, mechanical textures that slowly gain more and more layers to create a bit of drive to it. 'Estalacticas' is the biggest track on the record with its dark guitar and immense, pounding drums.
Juana Molina, for me, is an interesting introduction into the world of Argentine music. It's not something you hear very often elsewhere, and has this very grassroots feel to it. You can feel a certain South American tinge in it, placing it right at home while still offering up something otherworldly. Juana Molina's Halo has a very unique sound that may not sit right with you, but will still leave you wondering and curious for more.
Favorite Tracks: Paraguaya, Los Pies Helados, Estalacticas
Least Favorite Track: Al Oeste
Rating: 73 / 100
Buy or listen to Halo here: