Listen: Juana Molina's 'Halo' On the Argentine singer's new album, she's reached a zen place where the very texture of a tone becomes its own language.
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Review: Juana Molina, 'Halo'

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Review: Juana Molina, 'Halo'

Review

Review: Juana Molina, 'Halo'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/525546136/529550331" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

More than 20 years ago, Juana Molina walked away from stardom. She was a comic actress and had a popular TV show in her native Argentina. And since then, she's immersed herself in music and has an international following for her experimental folk-electronic creations. Her seventh album is called "Halo." Reviewer Tom Moon says it's her best.

(SOUNDBITE OF JUANA MOLINA SONG, "LENTISIMO HALO")

TOM MOON, BYLINE: Somewhere in human psychology, there must be an explanation for how somebody goes from a seemingly jolly occupation - making people laugh - to creating these odd, unsettling, almost otherworldly sounds.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LENTISIMO HALO")

JUANA MOLINA: (Singing in Spanish).

MOON: Juana Molina has a gift for the eerie. Hers is a music of atmospheres, of ceremonial chants set against subwoofer-rattling drones. She often sings in a near whisper, like in a trance. And sometimes she abandons words altogether.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SIN DONES")

MOLINA: (Vocalizing).

MOON: Check out what happens to that idyllic scene seconds later. Suddenly she's marching or maybe being chased. Her voice becomes agitated, the rhythm more clipped.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SIN DONES")

MOLINA: (Singing in Spanish).

MOON: It took Juana Molina a long time - over 20 years - to develop this type of audio drama. She started out performing solo with just guitar and loop pedal. Gradually she added noise and layers of percussion.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PARAGUAYA")

MOLINA: (Singing in Spanish).

MOON: Industry veterans told her she'd never succeed until she minimized the random electronic squiggles and began singing in English. Juana Molina rejected that advice. She kept chasing her vision. That led her to her stunning new album where the mood changes in a heartbeat and meaning comes rippling through the textures as often as the words.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COSOCO")

MOLINA: (Singing in Spanish).

CORNISH: The latest from Juana Molina is called "Halo." Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COSOCO")

MOLINA: (Singing in Spanish).

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