Lulacruza / MJ Greenmountain: Soloina

Few bands sound like Lulacruza. Composed of Luis Maurette from Argentina and Alejandra Ortiz from Colombia, the now-California-based duo uses electronic production methods to create a pan-global fusion that weaves female vocals, South American instruments, found sound objects, and field recordings into exotic landscapes. On Soloina, a collaboration with vocalist and multi-instrumentalist MJ Greenmountain, the sound explorers entwine a mini-orchestra of indigenous percussion instruments (kalimba, Bombo legüero, Yoruba talking drum, caxixis, qaraqebs) charango, cuatro, and chanted incantations into oft-mysterious ritual pieces that feel like they could summon long-dead spirits.

As rich in colour and spirit as its colour illustration, Soloina originated as improvisations recorded in Lulacruza's Oakland home which were then shaped into the forty-minute, nine-song collection. Ortiz's bright voice dances freely over the percussive-heavy swing of “Soloina” while the less dense “Cenote” allows the song's hypnotic vocal chants to have maximum impact. “Unu Tusuna,” “Everlasting,” and “Ackon Cahuak” bring the electronic dimension to the forefront with ever-changing and sometimes hazy masses of airy vocal musings and tropical sounds. The album is “world music” in the truest sense, due perhaps in part to the involvement of Greenmountain who has spent the past fifteen years studying music from around the globe and has participated in sacred ceremonies with tribes from India, Indonesia, Australia, Africa, and the Americas. Labels such as “electronic tropicalia” or “jungle electronica” understandably spring to mind when Soloina plays.

May 2009