The crossover of Scandinavian and South American folk to celebrate to.
Husband and Wife duos can make for a tricky artistic direction but the merge of two very distinct flavours of folk does wonders for Minuk. Alejandra Ortiz is the singer of Lulacruza and Marcus Berg is the singer of Kultiration and Markandeya. Ortiz brings the South American bird-like beauty. Berg brings the cooler soothing undertones. Together, Minuk has made some of the best folk music of 2020.
The delicate instrumentation is what immediately stands out. From lush acoustic guitars and warm percussion to the flutes and charango, it effortlessly envelopes you in warmth and love. ‘Aurora’ is on paper a devotional album and heavily spiritual. It is also proud of its Colombian roots and wears them on every song. From the chirping of Ortiz’s voice in ‘Cantarina’ and ‘Abuelo Jaguar’ – you feel like she is channelling the joy of being alive. When Alejandra’s vocals take the lead, there is a sense of motherly love and childlike wonder in her voice and the melodies follow.
Minuk has a double kiss though as Marcus leads in some of the tracks too and that often brings with it violins and upright bass to give a Scandinavian cool to the Latin warmth. ‘Unparalleled’ is easily one of the best ballads come uplifting tracks I’ve heard in years as the reggae-lite beats turn from quiet choruses to power chants. ‘Bound to Each Other’ is the other Marcus led piece which is another fantastic ballad.
The second half of the album moves towards a more mysterious folk vibe. ‘Corazon de Rubi’ embodies so much of what makes Columbian music hit many different feelings at once. The mysterious verses, soothing choruses, rousing flute solos – it is all there. ‘Madre de Luz’ on the flipside is delicately sparse and a delight to listen to in the hush of night. ‘Gente Mariposa’ feels like natures opera. When you aren’t being enchanted by Ortiz’s bird call vocals, you’ll have a bustling street of music that evokes a jig from you. Closing title track ‘Aurora’ bathes in night crickets and simple guitars and vocals. The track then has an extended dreamlike outro where crystal synths and violins seep in around a simple motif of guitar and voice. It could send you to sleep or into a dreamscape – it is a beautiful way to say goodbye to such a sumptuous album.
Minuk has created one of the best albums of 2020 and one of my favourite folk albums in years. Its mixture of elements and traditional instruments let the melodies shine. Both Alejandra and Marcus sing with passion and warmth and I always leave the album feeling reenergised. This is your outbreath sigh music for 2020. Let it all out, Minuk has you covered.
Recommended track: Unparalleled
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