Lulacruza: Circular Tejido
Nature Bliss / Acqua Records / Uji Music

Lulacruza, a Colombia and Argentina outfit composed of Alejandra Ortiz and Luis Maurette, add to a growing discography of two albums (2006's Do Pretty! and 2008's Soloina) and EP (2009's Canta) with Circular Tejido, a half-hour set featuring four new pieces. As before, the material weaves Ortiz's radiant vocalizing, South American instruments, electronics, field recordings, and percussion into a distinctive hybrid, but this time augments the duo's South American folk palette (cuatro, charango, kalimba, rattles, etc.) with accordion, theremin, African drums, and woodwinds. As before, the group's music proves to be both alluring and refreshing, a fresh breeze that's welcome in our neck of the woods anytime.

“Rio Contento” immediately gets a major boost from the angelic vocalizing of Alejandra Ortiz, with her mutli-tracked voice gliding rapturously atop a lightly swinging backdrop of South American rhythms built up from acoustic and electronic elements. Lulacruza's unique blend of traditional folk music and modern electronics comes especially to the forefront in “Simple Reflejo” when 4/4 dance rhythms animate the song's rich blend of acoustic instruments and Ortiz's crystal-clear vocals. Of the EP's four tracks, it's the one that's most purely representative of the group's sound as it features Ortiz and Maurette only, whereas the other three include guests' woodwinds and percussion. Though it gradually swells in volume, the title track nevertheless opts for a comparatively more langurous style that cultivates a dream-like aura, an effect enhanced when the sonic palette grows ever-denser with the addition of theremin, synthesizer, woodwinds, and a larger array of voices. The EP's closing track, “Montañita,” exudes joyousness in Ortiz's vocal lines and wonderment in its hazy, electroacoustic flow, with the clarinet musing of Ramiro Flores managing to make itself heard above the complex tapestry of sounds. That the recording was laid down in multiple locales, including Argentina and Oakland, USA, testifies to the music's genre-defying and border-collapsing nature.

April 2011