29 May 2011

Who Is Soema Montenegro?

Who, exactly, is Soema Montenegro?

If you ask indie filmmaker Vincent Moon, she's "the best singer in the world."

If you ask my sweetie, she's "the secret lovechild of a Kate Bush-Tom Waites tryst on an undisclosed island off the coast of South America."

Me, I think maybe she's a sister of Lila Downs who was raised by the ghost of Yma Sumac.

If this gives you some idea of the sound of this enigmatic, gorgeously voiced singer from Argentina, then great. Because the music she presents on her new album Passionaria so defies categorization that it's nearly impossible to describe. Sweet one moment, she can in an instant throw herself into a primal scream or gutteral growl or spiritual-sounding chant. The musical arrangements also vary from desert-sparse experimental ("Colibrí"), to a capella ("Invocación a la Passionaria"), to full-blown street brass band ("Flores del desierto"). Because of this, some listeners may find the transition between tracks a jolt.

If you can get past that, you'll find that Montenegro's voice is an incredible instrument with vast range and emotion, and the choices she makes have her stretching it to its musical and emotional limits. Her singing conveys a raw, naked energy that may make some listeners uncomfortable. But because this kind of expression is so rare in our age of slickly produced, niche-marketed music, it's also hugely refreshing.

[mp3] Soema Montenegro: Cuando Pasa

is her second album, but the first to be released in the United States. Give her a little of your time and listening attention, and you may be amazed at your own response.

More Soema Montenegro:
listen / buy CD
label website
more video

No comments: