Hailing originally as the bearded man of Rasputina, Luis Mojica has gone solo and has recently released his second album ‘How A Stranger Is Made’. In many ways, the same spirit transfers over from the gothic string rock to Luis’ piano cabaret rock. There’s plenty to love and Mojica has plenty to say across a diverse and catchy album.
‘Insane’ and ‘Shaman Food’ open the album with catchy piano hooks, a little showbiz glitz and broadway spectacle as Luis plays the man and a piano card well. What’s clear from the outset is how theatrical the album is. From the saxophone segments to the story beat background giggles to the marching drum beats – it is all telling a story. That theatrical bent also includes the occult and the witchy. ‘Invoked’ starts off as a pretty ballad before emerging like a deranged serpent. The piano, vocals and drums all curve around like a coil of magic to throw you off. It sounds broken and otherworldly. You can tell Luis Mojica is having a lot of fun with his music and that shines through to the listener.
Tori Amos would be proud of ‘Moon Men’ and ‘Stranger Song’ – both wonderful ballads about a very confusing set of relationships. Elsewhere Dresden Dolls and Amanda Palmer are close musical neighbours for the second half of the album. The theatrics continue with gentrification being at the centre of ‘City Friends’, sensual desires with ‘Witch Love’ and the superb chants of ‘Queen Song’ evoke a certain Devendra Bernhart quality. Single ‘The Ranger’ is the single track that brings in that Rasputina fiddle quality and its also the funky track of the album. What the single does do is showcase all the different traits of the album. There’s the dramatic middle section, funky riffs, theatrical moments peppered throughout and Luis Mojica’s voice powering through it all.
‘How A Stranger Is Made’ is a really fascinating album as each time I listen to it, I get something different from it. I am drawn to the witchier aspects with the dark drums and layered vocal arrangements when its at night. I really enjoy the alt-piano pop tracks when I’m on the move. The ballads really click when you give them time to breathe. I also really like that it’s a little rough around the edges as it gives everything a personality. Luis Mojica has created a little gem here and I’m glad to be a stranger to it no more.
Recommended track: The Ranger
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