Fakuta - Tormenta Solar

Tormenta Solar, Fakuta
Quemasucabeza, Chile
Rating: 81
by Zé Garcia

Things start off strange on Fakuta's sophomore record, Tormenta Solar, but by the second verse of its opening track you remember (if like me you have been mythologizing Chilean pop since 2010) that you're in the company of contemporary Chilean greats who's opening numbers have a history of feeling larger than life itself ("Como Puedes Vivir Contigo Mismo," "Arde Santiago," "Mantén la Conducción," "Las Fuerzas"). Then you realize the opening track is called "Guerra Con Las Cosas." Is this a Chilean pop or an anarcho punk / metal record? Fortunately for us, the Chilean pop gods at work on Tormenta Solar take us to a starry disco that beams back from the funky 70s and synth driven deep cuts from the 80s all in the service of what Fakuta (Pamela Sepúlveda) has described as "space pop."

"Guerra Con Las Cosas" gives way to "Despacio," a likely second single and the album's biggest banger. Reminiscent of the Chicago house / freestyle mixtapes we inherited from the 90s (it literally sounds like nothing else on the album) it invites a personal speculation of what a proper Mamacita album might sound like with the assistance of Milton Mahan and Pablo Muñoz who both have production credits on Tormenta Solar. And this prospect is a spectacular possibility all its own as "Despacio" would totally play on the same dance floor as mamacita's "No Eres Tu". Anyone care to put the Latinx Divas Do Chicago House Mixtape together? By the third chorus of "Despacio" we know that for this particular track, Fakuta is making a run for the proverbial Chilean pop crown. Fakuta could have just as easily retold "Despacio" for the rest of the album (& we would have loved it) but Fakuta has much more in store for us. What does she do instead? She goes on to make deeply jarring observations about the fragile human condition- something that isn't that weird as far as Chilean pop goes if you've been closely listening to Gepe, Ases Falsos, and to a lesser extent, Dënver.

From urging mankind to stop being cogs and become runaways on the excellent "Fugitivo" to the primordial appeal of walking the earth with your loved one in total liberty on the supernatural and epic "Mascota" one can't help but realize Fakuta isn't just dabbling in political theory. She also isn't crassly talking about "human rights" or reform; Tormenta Solar appeals to something much more cosmic here, something more ancient. And she has emerged as likely the best poet of the entire Chilean bunch, up there with Briceño himself. Lyrically, the album continues the cosmic interpersonal observations of Al Vuelo (and most of Chilean pop today actually). The catharsis of "La Intensidad" is one of the album's most sentimentally appealing moments. It is here where Fakuta finds the ability to move us deeply as the space pop prophet that she tends to be- consider "La Intensidad" as this album's "Virreinatos."

Space pop prophecy in the Chilean pop scene would not be complete without churning out a floor filler or two which brings us to "Tormenta Solar"- the single. Not on board with the rest of CF, "Tormenta Solar" was an immediate hit in the Top 40 of my heart. And the video only served to catapult it to #1. Immediately I felt like both sonically and visually the single would have found its public at Soddom & Ghomorra- a queer / trans punk house in Chicago who's aesthetic was known for everything we see in Fakuta's video: nuns in gas masks, nuns smoking bongs, pink upside down crosses, and neon automatic weapon imagery. Upon hearing the single, I immediately tweeted Fakuta: "this anthem bangs along with the the best of Flans and Fey." Her duet with rock poet virtuoso Cristobal Briceño is likely the best song on the album. Its biggest surprise is the glorious chorus which takes from the 70s funk excellently executed in Ases Falso's latest album, especially on "Al Borde del Cañon."

The riveting closer "Mascota" -a paranormal tour de force- begins with its most forwardly anti authoritarian prose yet: "Los animales alzados van Contra la ciudad se revelará / Cansados de  ser sumisos protestar / Hasta que los amos se rendirán." Such a blatant nod to Chile's contemporary insurrectionaries gives way to synthesized choral horns reminiscent of Camilo Sesto's "Fresa Salvaje" (excellently revived earlier this year in a sample by the Venezeulan duo Las Hermanas). The message of "Mascota" sounds like pop prophecy but considering the global scale of uprisings today, the lessons of Tormenta Solar only seem all the more urgent. From Mexico's self defense committees, to the fires of Ferguson, to Chile's Mapuche and anarcho communities, the timeliness of Tormenta Solar can at times sound like the soundtrack of a popular or personal (space pop!) insurrection. Did we also mention the album dropped on the eve of a total lunar eclipse in Aries?

With all this praise we have to talk about the albums weakest track- "Luces de Verano." It is a perfectly ok song but given the context of what we're talking about- musically speaking- it ends up sounding a little like Live Aid or Teleton Music- it is a bit of a blemish on an otherwise great record. This time around the space like or cosmic offerings of Fakuta's album are more conceptual and lyrical than sonic- there are (sadly) not as many satellite like whirrings or spaceship take offs as on Al Vuelo. Missing too are what CF writer Enrique Coyotzi described as the "architectonic" pop landscapes that made her debut such a heart stopping future pop record back in 2011. Fakuta's ideas on Tormenta Solar are more direct and humanist than ever before- but gone are the adventurous and breathtaking sound collages of Al Vuelo- there is nothing that sounds like a space station disintegrating into dubstep (talking about the great "Las Partes" here) on this album. Despite Tormenta Solar not being as heroic sonically as its predecessor, Fakuta's meticulous space pop continues her legacy as a sonic constellation that shines along the brightest amongst her peers.

Javiera Mena - Otra Era

Otra Era, Javiera Mena
Unión del Sur, Chile
Rating: 92
by Andrew Casillas 

How do you follow-up your masterpiece? The common theory is that great artists deliberately evade the sounds of their great works in the name of aural evolution (think of Café Tacuba chasing Reves/Yosoy with Cuatro Caminos, or every album the Beatles made from 1965 to 1969). Students of history, however, will see the past sixty years of popular music as deviations on a common theme. Except in very rare cases (say, Radiohead following up OK Computer with Kid A), the rock era celebrates artists that formulate an unimpeachable template and harvest that sound to diminishing returns. This is why the Rolling Stones are celebrated for their perseverance; Prince for his idiosyncrasies; Spoon for their Spoon-ness. This is the route to immortality.

Javiera Mena has certainly established a distinctive sound, which is impressive considering the cumulative length of her output is shorter than Goodfellas. In essence: Casio keys, electric drums, sound effects, bass-centric melodies, simple and direct lyrics; again, deviations on a common theme. What made her first two albums (not to mention Prissa’s Ni Tu Ni Yo, her collaboration album with Francisca Villela), so compelling was its infectious nature—big beats giving way to big choruses giving way to big emotions. Her first solo single, “Al Siguiente Nivel,” was a mission statement of her musical ambitions. And it just happened to be a perfect pop song. For 2010’s Mena, Javiera diversified her sound, adding gloss and intricacy to her arrangements, resulting in one of the seminal pop albums of this century.

So one more time: how do you follow-up your masterpiece? For her new album, Otra Era, Javiera Mena chooses to ride the formula to its purest version. Otra Era is the sensational dance-pop classic in the vein of Kylie Minogue’s Fever and the Pet Shops Boys’ Very, combining the giddy bombast of the former with the pulsating Euro-dance rhythms of the latter. Indeed, this is the first Javiera Mena album to reject disco as a foundation. Instead, Javiera reconfigures her sound to fixate on either house music rhythms or frenetic dance-pop. The result is a bouncy, confident beast of a record, and the most uniform-sounding Javiera Mena album to date, with grooves and hooks creeping at every turn.

Much of Otra Era’s pre-release buzz centered about Javiera recording in Miami, aiming to create her “pop album,” as if Paulino Rubio needed to watch her seat on La Voz Kids. While Otra Era is certainly unabashedly pop, it’s not packed full of saccharine, in part because of Cristian Heyne’s production. Javiera’s right hand man across each album, Heyne operates almost like another vocalist, with tempo changes and well-placed percussion lifting ostensibly generic-pop beats into punch-drunk bangers.

And the bangers come as quickly as you can hit play. Opener “Los Olores De Tu Alma” pulsates like a jetliner at takeoff. A pounding backbeat thumps away as Javiera pushes her vocals in a fit of exasperated lust. Then the chorus hits, and the vocals stretch the words “como todo el sonido” into yearning, the beat breaks away into a swirling keyboard cacophony. It’s a dynamite section of music, and perhaps the most aggressive section she’s recorded since the breakdown on Esquemas Juveniles’ “Cuando Hablamos.”

Aggression is certainly the best word to describe Otra Era in relation to Esquemas Juveniles and Mena. In fact, the album’s strength lies in the teeth imbued within the production. Take “Esa Fuerza” for example. The song rides along on high synth notes for two minutes, sounding like a simple dance number reminiscent of Kylie’s “Love at First Sight.” Then, two minutes in, the middle eight hits, and the vocals chant “la unica que ser” until dissolving into a sweaty keyboard breakdown continuing throughout the remainder of the track, a key tempo change that effectively changes it into a different (and better) song. For all its charms, however, “Esa Fuerza” is not the strongest song of the record.

Instead, the three-song combo opening side two are the true showcase for Otra Era’s sonic attack. In single “La Joya,” which still sounds like it’ll be running your summers ten years from now, the exuberant “Que Me Tome la Noche,” and the perfectly titled “La Carretera,” Mena and Heyne have three numbers that allow them to operate on all cylinders. “La Joya” allows the pair to indulge headfirst in 80s nostalgia, sounding like the unintended mix of Lisa Lisa and Madonna you could have sworn already existed. This is before (again) hitting the accelerator at the bridge, tearing the fucking lid off the song and letting the keys ride it into another dimension. “Que Me Tome la Noche” is freestyle on steroids, lifting those keyboards Britney Spears used on “Til the World Ends” that sounded like fire from the sky (or foam falling on the dance floor, I can’t really tell). And “La Carretera” is a 90 mph slice of brash beachside firework pop, launching hooks the way 30 Rock launched jokes. Javiera Mena always held a debt to Gloria Estefan (see "Luz de Piedra de Luna") and this track pays it back by riding the Miami Sound Machine (with a tint of Capullo) into the goddamn ocean.

Of course, this is still a Javiera Mena album, meaning it must be judged according to its slow jamz. And while “Pide” and “Quedate un Ratito Mas” are tender, sometimes blissful songs, the heart of this album is its title track. As a standalone single “Otra Era” was charming and lovely, but as heard within the parent album it is as gorgeous as Javiera Mena has ever sounded. Atypical of the rest of the album, “Otra Era” revels in minimalism and is built solely on an array of keys and basic drum effects. The ethereal “Fool on the Hill”-like melody sustains the track, but it’s Javiera’s lyrics and cadence that grounds the song. Long derided (and sometimes rightly) for writing overly naïve lyrics, “Otra Era” doubles-down on the mantras. Here, however, the music acts as an emotional reinforcement. Note how, after a dizzying array of stadium synths, the final chorus shuts down so Javiera Mena can address the audience (“Piensa en mi como soy / Piensa lejos de mí”). Then, in the turn of an eye: madness; synthesizers exploding at every turn; “llévame a otra era.” It’s the type of dance song you would prefer to listen to sitting down and holding hands.

Making a fun dance-pop album is not hard so long as you remember that people want to dance. But making a great dance-pop album requires the artist to have the confidence to establish an identity and not cater to the lowest common denominator. Otra Era is a great album, genre be damned, because Javiera Mena knows what she is and what how to package her sound. This is why “Espada,” almost a year after its release, still sounds urgently brazen and satisfying far after it’s debut. Javiera’s artistic maturity has allowed her to tinker with her formula like an aural wizard—knowing when to let hooks sink and when to unleash her bag of tricks. Now, let’s make this clear: Otra Era is not the equal of Mena. But very few albums are. And even after the inevitable nitpicking, Otra Era still sounds like a modern classic from one of the classic artists of this generation. One that is clearly on the road to immortality.

Video: Dënver - "Profundidad de Campo"

You'd think by now Dënver would've given "Torneo Local" (the catchiest track in Fuera de Campo) the single treatment, but they've bravely chosen for the wonderfully nuanced and string-syncopated beauty of "Profundidad de Campo." After winning the prize for Music Video of the Year at FESAALP (Festival de Cine Latinoamericano de la Plata), as well as topping our own list with "Revista de Gimnasia," Bernardo Quesney is once again in charge of the frame. Recruiting Chilean actor Eugenio Morales once again as a TV host and dance music choreographer, Quesney plays with the analog signal nostalgia of variety shows (sacrificing the comfort of widescreen and adjusting the ratio of the frame to fit the era). With a bold sign on the background that reads "Tocando las estrellas!," this has to be Dënver's most extroverted clip yet. Mariana is rocking a pink wig, while Milton owns the new look. Both teasing the camera in a tongue-in-cheek manner and showing off their quirky moves. Our favorite duo has sure come a long way since appearing as kidnapped victims on the trunk of a car in that unforgettable breakthrough clip of "Lo Que Quieras."

Video: Los Punsetes - Me gusta que me pegues

While CANADA's style has remained a popular reference point for countless indie videos (and indie video dissections), their latest work for Los Punsetes combines a familiar aesthetic with an even more exaggerated commercial and pop motif. What I'm getting at is that this is kind of Kyary-esque. Anyone who has followed Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's videography over the years should instantly recognize certain visual elements of marrying cute with creepy. “Me gusta que me pegues” might not strictly adhere to Kyary's dogma (what does?), but it still gets there. Consider the scene in which singer Ariadna, dressed in a gold lamé sweater, delivers a knockout roundhouse kick, or how her victim (a pretty freaking creepy piñata man) tumbles down as gracefully as it occurs only in anime. Don't even get me started on the performance shots with candy graphics swirling inside the band. This kawaii masochism is soundtracked by a brazen and addicting single that charges through like a fuse, you can't blink because it goes out that quickly. It's the first taste of LPIV (out November 4th on CANADA Editorial), which also reunites Los Punsetes with Pablo Díaz-Reixa (El Guincho) as producer.

Javiera Mena - "Otra era"

So, it's finally happening. The full details of Javiera Mena's new album are out and Otra Era is due to arrive in a mere two weeks. Our written track record on her recent material might reflect some closeted skepticism, yet in spite of our weak faith, we have been rewarded with a third single. "Otra era," by far the most transcendent and memorable moment of the new album cycle, succeeds where "Espada" and "La Joya" did not. There are no vocal leaps that test the ear palate, no messy structures that overindulge in dance rhythms. Javiera sounds wistful and enlightened: a rare pop wisdom now on full display.

The synth grooves on "Otra era" sound foggy, the house pianos muted. One can feel a distance between the beats, which easily affect the body, but cannot reach the afflicted mind. Not when it's busy contemplating such a mesmerizing and haunting beauty ("¿Acaso no eres de acá?"). Javiera pulls on every resource she can: on history and the impact of great empires, on the metaphysical and platonic ideals. When no lasting conclusions can be reached, she finally surpasses the limitations of language: those altered pitch shifts come in and signal a complete reset. Only through rebirth can she acquire what she really wants, ("contigo llévame a una nueva, nueva, era, era, era...").

Supersonico : Festival Report

The first edition of Supersonico was nothing short from a hit for Cookman and Goldenvoice. Despite my reservations with about a third of the lineup, Supersonico turned out to be the fast-paced and wonderfully packed event it was designed to be. Ok, perhaps not fast enough for those that brought an appetite -the lines were unlike anything I've ever seen... worst than Disney. Shrine Expo Hall & Grounds welcomed 10,000 attendees on a sold out "cultural happening," according to the organizers. With such bright results, it's not a surprise to confirm this as the first edition of many to come.

As always, festivals serve as a grand showcase to see people. I was surprised by how many hipsters showed up (long gone rockosaurios), and surprised by the low number of anglo latinophiles amongst the crowd. Not that the festival wasn't welcoming to those curious about Latin Alternative music, but it was refreshing to see that the festival wasn't catered towards the NPR/KCRW audience as we all thought. Instead, it seemed to be an integrationist event exercising a populist approach at its very core.

It will come off snobbish and not very progressive, but our party planned to hit the event held on Downtown L.A. late enough to miss any SKA act (Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra), boring cultural tailoring (La Santa Cecilia), or cheesy/comic filling (Los Master Plus). But that wasn't very smart of us, as we didn't realize Ceci Bastida played really early on. Four out of five colleagues I ran into pointed to Ceci's performance as the most pleasing, if not the best of the night -which is the same reaction that's been heard from her performances at SXSW and Vive Latino.

Coming to the fest, it was no secret the act I was most excited about was María y José. After five years of blogging about him, I can say I was not disappointed one bit. Not even by his unapologetic choices, like that of singing Magneto's "Vuela Vuela" at what could be his most industry-important show yet. It was thrilling to see Gallardo own that Illuminati stage, acquiring visibility and movement one track after the other. Whatever transmutations he put into the live version of "Kibose," he needs to re-record that (as many times as necessary) -it's so good I wonder if that's been his magnus opus all along. Yes, we can be as romantic as we want applauding the orchestration/pedigree of instruments, but Macbooks can fill a room with joy as well. Also proven by fellow Tijuanenses and ruidoson makers, Los Macuanos, new digital folk should be on the agenda for future Supersonicos to come.

The other highlights of the night weren't necessarily surprising. Café Tacvba still is the most entertaining live act I've ever seen. A worthy headliner of this or any festival out there really. A lesser known band that certainly gained new fans is Bomba Estereo. Although most people didn't recognize them until "Fuego" boomed through the speakers, Liliana Saumet won that audience like no one else did on the main stage. There were also acts with less inconsistency. Los Rakas and AJ Dávila were a bit disappointing in how they decided to approach the festival. Both acts seem to have maximized their sonic output, designing it for a big crowd (Los Rakas by bringing a full funk band, and AJ Davila by choosing to shout before an almost empty stage). You can't really blame either band though. Transferring music discourse is a fragile transaction (especially if they set you up against Calle 13 on the main stage).

Desert - Envalira EP

Envalira EP, Desert
Buenritmo/Minty Fresh, Spain
Rating: 80
by Giovanni Guillén

Oftentimes at Club Fonograma we’ll let entire seasons pass between a record’s release and when we actually come to review it. The delayed writing process exposes the fickle nature of journalistic impressions, consequently turning the whole effort into a daunting task. Even if personal or professional obligations are behind the initial delay, we may still arrive at those frustrating cycles of love and hate, doubting ourselves (“was this actually good?”) to an unnecessary degree. Luckily, time has not weakened our admiration for Barcelona’s Desert, who originally released their debut EP all the way back in June. Envalira still holds up as an ambitious future pop, one that delivers on its etymological promise (the titular name is derived from verbs synonymous with “euphoric” and “spellbinding”) even in such a compact four-song format.

Desert first grabbed our attention in 2012 after the dissolution of Granit gave light to a new project and a hardened but beautiful single (“Camins”). Back then the duo exuded mystery as to their purpose, and it could only be solved with blogger speculations and obligatory comparisons with anything and everything. Cristina Checa and Eloi Caballé have since traded their internet/producer mystique for a more straightforward presentation of their music, embracing pop and electronic templates and revels in its limitless potential.

Side A channels a more kinetic vibe on its two tracks. Opener "Tu ets el so" aims for ascension with a bounce that recalls Grimes’ “Genesis,” only here singer Cristina Checa’s deeper register is the star. Her voice bellows as if encouraged by the claps and tumultuous charge. “Quars” flutters to a calmer place, opening with a hypnotic ring taken from weirdly color-graded 70’s films. As the song finds its footing the colors become more vivid, projecting and emoting with intricate and delicate progressions. Should there be a video in the future it will certainly demand some esoteric choreography, in this way the song is a clear ally to Caroline Polachek’s Ramona Lisa project.

Side B incites the more fragile side of Desert. On the title track and fitting closer, Checa’s voice lulls while transporting us back to 2006 when Javiera Mena’s “Perlas” brought us at the meeting points of precious ignorance and terrifying revelations. Yet the strongest moment on Envalira continues to be where there’s more at stake. I first described the majestic “Saps prou bé” in an earlier post as a “chariot ride through an arid landscape at night.” An image which I think still stands as appropriate but misses the true scale of the track. Most ballads rely on face to face contact to become effective torch songs, and yet “Saps prou bé” with its orbiting unceasing pace gives the impression that we never quite make that connection. In fact, the attempt is as futile as our hopes of reaching celestial bodies that have long-ago disappeared and whose light has barely reached us. Envalira, however, doesn’t mourn this loss. It celebrates that it existed in the first place.

Supersonico: Preview

From organizing the Latin Alternative Music Conference, curating MTV Tr3’s La Hora Nacional, and of course, overlooking the Nacional Records catalogue, Tomas Cookman is one very hard working man. Rumors of a “Latin Coachella” had been rumored around for a couple of years. When it was time to reveal the birth of Supersonico, it wasn’t a huge surprise to anyone that Cookman was behind it. Joining forces with Goldenvoice (the people behind Coachella) and under the subtitle of “A Cultural Happening,” the first edition of Supersonico looks truly promising.

Nacional’s syndicated brand has been the go-to place for the Anglo-centric fests to fill their Latin card to make their festivals appear more culturally rich. After 15 years of the LAMC, Cookman knows better than to turn a festival into a showcase. And although there are a handful of Nacional artists on the lineup, you have to applaud the decision of opening the field to an array of guests, including a couple of unsigned acts (María y José, Los Master Plus). Compared to a festival like Mexico City’s Vive Latino, Supersonico’s lineup looks like the timetable of a single stage, but it’s impressive considering we’re still tasting the waters of that pledged Latin Alternative audience.

So let’s get to the lineup. You won’t ever hear me complain about seeing Café Tacvba perform. Even if El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco has proven to be one of the band’s least accomplished works, the 20-year commemoration of Re (considered the best Latin rock album of all time) is enough to feel excited and nostalgic about. The other big headliner, Calle 13, comes from releasing the most politically-misguided and cringing record we've heard this year, but they do put on a great live show (and they are responsible for some of the most exciting music of the past decade). Nortec Collective’s Bostich + Fussible’s announcement of the recently released Motel Baja as their very last record will make their performance emotional and moving.

New music lovers typically find the most exciting acts amongst the smaller fonts of the lineup. It’s a hit and miss here. Let’s start with the underwhelming names. I’m sure Deorro will get the people jumping up and down, but I can think of at least twenty other names that could have done that job and actually produce above average music. It’s not a crime to have feature some comic relief, but the novelty of Los Master Plus wore off right after their Kings of Leon parody hit video “Sexo En Fuego.”

There are plenty of exciting rising acts that make up for the underwhelming names though. Tijuana ruidoson mavericks María y José and Los Macuanos are bound to prove why they’ve been a critics’ darlings, and two of the most blogable latin acts in the last few years. Also from the same bordertown, Ceci Bastida has been known for stealing the show –if looking for a true performer, you can’t go wrong with Ceci. Compared to most festivals catered towards Latinos, Supersonico has a surprising low number of rock acts. This is actually great news in the sense that it’s striking to be truly diverse. At the same time, it makes young rock bands like Venezuela’s La Vida Boheme and Puerto Rico’s AJ Davila y Terror Amor truly attractive. French-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux will bring a full band to unveil her discourse, while Colombia’s Bomba Estereo is sure to make people move through their cumbia and tropical flirtations with dance music.

Supersonico: A Cultural Happening, will be taking place at Shrine Expo Hall & Grounds in Los Angeles this Saturday, Oct. 11.

Buscabulla - "Caer"

With the blessings of Dev Hynes (Blood Orange), Buscabulla (Raquel Berrios and Luis Alfredo del Valle) have launched their highly anticipated Self-titled EP and a gorgeous video for leading track, "Caer." It's exciting to see that from our small Caribbean paradises, new artists are emerging and creating fresh sounds mixing our Caribbean roots with the rhythms of the zeitgeist. All with a charisma that winks to the 80s. In this song, Raquel's voice is like the coming together of Grimes and Angela Carrasco singing Boca Rosa,  and of course sexier than that.  In the frame, we almost get hypnotized with the lights that scroll across her silky face. The music is unfolded in such a way that it pulls us to the neon dance floor -is like a toy store saved in a music box.

We will get to publish a proper review of Buscabulla soon, but we can truly say it's a gem. It's like each song is a unique blend with the brush of Raquel's voice guiding the magic. At the moment, if I was to call a Hot Line, I wish for Raquel to be on the other side of the phone. The styling of the video is haunting. From oversized shirts and clean faces, to the distant appearance of Luis Alfredo eating a banana and playing the maracas, there's true aesthetic depth on every frame. This is psicomagic, modern witchcraft. Twice we hear the song sigh "to' lo malo se va," and you can only wonder how Buscabulla is playing with trends and yet able to sound more alternative than what's on the market today. They are keeping it real.

Video: Carolina Camacho - "Ninfa de las Aguas"

We can say an artist is ahead of the curve when maintaining the organic folklore of her/his roots by integrating it into new cultural and artistic trends. My island, Dominican Republic, has a transgressive, religious and ethnic music history base: from Africans, Aborigines, and Europeans, we have absorbed a worldwide influence that has come to shape the rhythms exercised by new generations and new technologies. When I saw the video “Ninfa de las Aguas,” helmed by Dominican director Fernando “Fundamental” Rivas for the increasingly popular Carolina Camacho, I found myself very inspired. From the first moment I was attracted by the fact it is a low-budget video –simple and homogenous. And yet, despite its resources, the result can be placed on the same list of audiovisual output of artists like Fever Ray and FKA Twigs. Not for the manufacturing of the images themselves, but for the pagan and magical issues that develop.

Undoubtedly Carolina and the crew created a concept that leads us to the sea. A sea of nymphs, goddesses and queens. All in a religious, spiritual and sexual way. The music takes it all, in a confronting way that keeps us afloat in this liquid entertaining sequence. While the clip can be somewhat monotonous (because of its ecstatic location), the pace and the drama in the performance of the artist helps to keep us interested from beginning to end. The strength of the video is that it plays with our imagination, with the concept of beauty and femininity, seeking the aesthetic in non-traditional spiritual beliefs that we don’t see often lately.

Video: Ave Negra – "CSI"

By now, many of you (may) know that apart from being talented musicians Ave Negra’s Felo, Russel and Fede are also quite a formidable goofball team. Maybe you’ve seen the bit they did recently in their debut video “Tengo una Nenita,” where the trio commits petty theft to achieve their dreams about starting a band. Or maybe you’ve seen it in their live performance. Either way—with a little digging—it’s not hard to tell has become big and heavy but still quick enough on its feet to entertain us with their weirdness.

Ave Negra definitely has a penchant for strange but inventive music videos, and this one is no exception. The latest video from the costaricans accompanies "CSI", off their upcoming debut LP due probably next year. It's a typically goofy, VHS-style clip, starring the group in La Patria’s empty pool, skating and dancing along with druggy and bizarre visuals by Pollux. The video was produced by local well known collective Super Legitimo and S3R Audiovisual. What’s impressive is that even though the duo ventures into a juvenile video, the knack for catchy melodies and heavy riffs improves, making this both true to their roots and indicative of huge maturation.

Video: Juana Molina - "Lo Decidí Yo"

Fresh from seeing Juana Molina play live to a small but substantial audience at the Newtown Social Club in Sydney, Australia, we're happy to see a brand new video from her latest LP, Wed 21, for track "Lo Decidí Yo." Perhaps not a surprising choice as a single for its seemingly straightforward melody (for Molina) and repetitive refrain, the video ekes out the multidimensional characteristics of the track that casual listeners might miss.

In this captivating and yet simple video, directed by the artist herself and Mario Caporali, Molina stars as a paper doll moving deliberately through and above Argentinian landscape: Andes, woods, farm yards, by the sea (watch out for that bus!); her movements as jagged and floppy as a child's plaything, delightfully ironic given the self-determined lyric. For a full minute, the Molina doll - or Dolina, if you will - is caught in what looks like a vapor trail (though probably just time lapsed cirrus), viewed from an aircraft, while her layered 'scatting' delivers the visceral punch that is performed so dramatically and satisfactorily live. This sequence is so epically beautiful, the entire video could loop this imagery and be just as beguiling. Watch it fullscreen. And quick - someone make a gif!