The very best of live experimental folktronica.
I had the pleasure of seeing Juana Molina live in concert when she released her album Weds 21 and it was a fantastic experience. At the time she was switching from playing and looping all the instruments herself, to letting a drummer and bassist/guitarist get involved. She was forming her band sound and it was a beautiful mixture of the two. Several years as a trio touring later and ‘ARNMAL’ is very much the product of a trippy folk troupe working in complete harmony. This is a live album to savour.
Taking songs largely from her most recent three albums, they’ve been rearranged to sound more punk-tronica focused. The guitars are twangy and heavier. The drums are often bouncing at speed. This is a plugged version of Juana’s work. Thankfully, there is also plenty of looping and samples going nuts over the top of the rock to give it the Molina edge.
Its fun that Un Dia and Paraguaya have two versions – their original form and their punk form. Inspired by her ‘Forfun’ EP, the punk versions are crazy full rock b-movie efforts. The joy and energy pulsates through them as Juana lets off steam. They are all decidedly different to not feel cheated that you’ve the same song twice – they simply sound like polar opposites. Elsewhere the ascension of energy of ‘Estalacticas’ and in particular ‘Bicho Auto’ are superb. They display musical showmanship of riding the wave of live music. The particular jewel in the crown is ‘Ay no se Ofendan’ which blossoms into a psych-rock live show. I really like the album version but this has a fluidity and emotion to it that connected with me much deeper than the original. Juana’s vocal gymnastics are very much on point.
As a fan, I am hopelessly head over heels with the release and adore it. As a newcomer, I’d probably recommend starting with Weds 21 or Halo as easy entries to Juana Molina and her crazy music. It is a stunning live performance but you may need a bit of frequency tuning before diving straight in here. Molina is one of those musicians who you can count on to provide something fresh and entertaining every single time and ARNMAL delivers this in spades. My live album of the year.
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