24 May 2005

Juana Molina - 'Salvese Quien Pueda'

Two things brought me to this record. First, there was the involvement of Four Tet. I am, on the sly, a bit of a Four Tet fan. He always strikes me as someone who understands how music is put together, and in his records the right things generally happen at the right time. Second, it’s on the Domino label, the most reliable musical indicator of our era. You rarely go wrong with a Domino record. If I ran a label – and I can’t say I haven’t thought about it – I like to think it would be a bit like Domino.

So to this 12” from someone called Juana Molina, with a couple of Four Tet versions on one side. And do you know, it’s bloody lovely! I play this on return from a stressful day spent selling off small, irreplaceable, parts of my soul in exchange for not very much money at the coalface of pointless administration, and my troubles quietly subside. A Radox bath and a mugful of something soothing – like malt whisky – couldn’t work this magic. For your money, you get three versions of Salvese Quien Pueda (this is Spanish, apparently, and her rather cute website is also in this language, with Molina evidently hailing from Argentina… hmm, does this make this ‘world music'?). There’s two from Four Tet on the A side, an ‘ugly’ version, which is crunchy and liquiduous, and about which there is nothing wrong, and a ‘pretty’ version, which is the real gem here. It isn’t pretty; it’s beautiful. Imagine walking through a gorgeous, sunlit meadow with the girl of your dreams on your arm. She sings to you softly, while make-believe animals low in the distance. You’re there. Towards the end the drums come in, at which point the whole thing leans back, lifts off and gently hovers.

On the other side Ms Molina adds her own version, wherein the song stretches out and gives itself a little room to let things develop. Murmurous noises and sleepy sounds are joined by some pleasant acoustic guitar, and we end with my favourite ‘la la las’ so far this year. I’m never terribly au fait with genre boundaries, but it’s possible that this is ‘folk music’. But if this is folk music, how come everyone isn’t doing it?

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