The singer and songwriter, Juana Molina, took the long road to a music career. During much of the 1990s, she was a star of a popular weekly comedy show in Argentina. She walked away to explore music in 1998. Since then, she's toured constantly, opening for David Byrne and others.

Her new is CD called Son. Tom Moon has a review.

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TOM MOON reporting:

When Juana Molina first began writing music, she followed the basic outline we all learned as young listeners. The verses tell the story, followed by a big star-spangled refrain.

Molina got good at that structure. But after a few years of performing her songs, she felt trapped. So she began to experiment.

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MOON: She started her experiments by singing any little melody with simple rhythm. She'd take that first thought, and loop it over and over again, using her voice to imitate the sound of a Wah-wah guitar or the crack of percussion instruments. Then off she would go. Before she knew it, she had a song.

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MOON: Juana Molina recorded her CD, one part at a time, at home, at night, making strange opulent chorales. She discovered that her voice could do all kinds of unusual things, like this, which includes her impression of the science fiction sound of the electronic Theremin.

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MOON: There are lyrics on this CD. They're usually impressionistic waves of words and images, sung in Spanish. In the title tune, Juana Molina sings about accepting things as they are. In another song called Las Culpas, she proclaims, I want to see everybody's faults on the table, but mine.

(Soundbite of Las Culpas, sung in Spanish language)

MOON: When you first enter Juana Molina's musical world, you might not feel at ease. The atmospheres are dense and sometimes spooky. Chords don't change very often, and when they do, they move in unexpected ways. And even if you understand Spanish, you still might not understand what Juana Molina is singing about.

But give the music a chance, because this is a fantastical sound, built on happy accidents and flying leaps. It's unlike just about everything else out there. And Juana Molina might have missed it too, had she kept on chasing the perfect pop song.

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NORRIS: The CD by Juana Molina is called Son. Our reviewer is Tom Moon. You can hear a recent live performance by Juana Molina at npr.org.


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