Live Review

Juana Molina, Styvessant Town Oval

Adorably, it feels like the world’s largest family picnic.

Walking into Stuyvesant Town in search of Juana Molina, is something akin to walking the Minotaur’s maze while the siren’s sea-song drifts overhead. Nestled deep within the flat brick monstrosities that inhabit Stuyvesant Town, the music of Argentina’s Juana Molina bounces off the walls and hides in the multitudinous corners, leading seekers of the source astray and abreast of dead ends.

Yet (with time), even the most wayward attendees eventually find another straggler and work their way toward the green and the music. Around the parking lot and past the playground and the scene grows ever weirder. Situated on the green is a host of families, preschool kids, a mess of hipster kids, and the prissiest of parents.

Absent are the bellow and weed smoke of weekend warriors that one might expect at an afternoon concert, and in place are the shouts of children, skipping above the general murmur and flux of adult conversation. However, this is still a concert and the glug of wine and beer are still poured into those seminal red Dixie cups. Adorably, it feels like the world’s largest family picnic. A fitting feeling for a set of sounds both traditional and experimental.

Ms. Molina’s songs incorporate country, folk, and electronic influences while producing a sound her very own. In interviews Molina has admitted having difficulty performing her recorded material. As a solo artist working primarily at home, she has run the risk of becoming trapped by the loops and cycles of her studio work. May her fears be assuaged.

One of the most striking qualities of this evening’s performance is the apparent ease with which the artist makes her music. Moving back and forth from the traditional nylon stringed guitar to the modern Korg synthesizer, Juana Molina is able to weave together a strikingly organic tapestry of sounds.

Throughout the performance our heroine coaxes a plethora of sounds from her guitar: tapping the body to create beats, emphasizing the lower strings to create a bass line, and plucking the upper strings to roll out a melody. Using these strains as the base of her songs, she is able to utilize the Korg to mimic the sounds of thumb pianos, science fiction film scores, and tonally proficient junkyards.

Molina’s curiousity of sound is expressed in her vocal performance as well, as she uses her voice to yelp, howl, chant, and sing according to the demands of her instrumental arrangements. Though the majority of songs are performed with only the minimal movement needed to play the guitar and synthesizer (neither her performances nor her music are known for their histrionics), she ends her set with one of the world’s most adorable curtseys.

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