ambient electronica Folktronica reggae review south america techno tuned percussion world music

Kaleema – Útera Review

A hypnotic blend of old and new.

Sounds like…

A hypnotic journey that unites the spiritual old and the technological new.

The review

Kaleema’s has a stunning ability to weave elements from her Argentinian home into modern dubs, beats and electronica. Útera is the follow up to her excellent 2017 debut Nomada. The album expands her percussive palette, moving from her techno roots to an ethereal downtempo vibe. It is something Kaleema nails perfectly.

The entire album has a rich tuned percussion texture to it. From opening ambient piece ‘Ambrosia’ through to the rolling jungle jingles of lead single ‘Portales’, everything is singing. Even the drum beats often have tonal qualities that shift. Sometimes like in ‘Rama Negra’, we have warm and wholesome marimba sounds. Elsewhere it’ll be the multi-layered electric piano giving you a stream of tiny melodies such as the track ‘Circulo de Arena’. Throughout most of the album though, two instruments act as the voice. Firstly, Kaleema’s own voice shines throughout. She is able to shift from the position of Mother Nature to a collective force of voices with ease. The other lead voice is the Andean flute. It soars, flutters, riffs and repeats with elegance and grace – adding an otherworldly quality that feels primal and spiritual.

picture of Kaleema
Kaleema

The biggest shift in Kaleema’s music is how refined and flowing Útera is. Tracks like ‘Ololiuqui’ have glassy thumb pianos and reggae trip beats gently pulsing under her voice like a gentle trance. Beauty is everywhere and not an ugly sound can be heard. Everything sparkles like a jungle in full spring and that is quite a difficult vibe to achieve. ‘Invoco’ and ‘La Marea’ could act as future singles as they move this beauty towards something more world fusion radio-friendly, but largely the album is designed to be a hypnotic journey. This allows ‘Purposa’ to bask in synth harps from heaven in a glorious downtempo/ambient crossover and ‘Sen’ to whisper seductively over low dubs as a sirens call to a jungle cave.

Put simply, Útera is a class act. Kaleema has been able to channel her album to be percussive, melodic, hypnotic and vibrant whilst above all, sounding alive and beautiful. I’m finding more and more that many folktronica related acts from South America have a real knack for blending heritage and technology together in a way few others can. They understand the beauty and value of both and Kaleema’s refusal to let one beauty shine over the other results in a stunning collection of music. Put the lights on low and enjoy this journey. You won’t regret it.

Recommended track: Portales

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Kaleema - Útera

9.5

9.5/10

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