With most of the world swiftly entering lockdown in early 2020, few of us could say we had found ourselves in the right place at the right time. Yet musical connections led the Guatemalan cellist and composer Mabe Fratti to quarantine in the artist compound La Orduña, outside Mexico City. It proved to be exactly where she needed to be to compose her second album, Será Que Ahora Podremos Entendernos? (Will We be Able to Understand Each Other Now?).
Mabe Fritti: Será Que Ahora Podremos Entendernos? album cover
Armed with her cello, synths and field microphones, Fratti set out to record the sounds of birds circling the skies and insects chattering through the night, while sharing compositional ideas with fellow La Orduña residents such as composer Claire Rousay, experimental band Tajak, and multi-instrumentalist Pedro Tirado. The result is nine tracks that inspire inner spaciousness, undercut with a journeying sense of unease, through the creation of ambient, textural soundscapes.
A polyrhythmic, plucked cello motif underpins opening number Nadie Sabe, as Fratti’s soft falsetto interweaves with the whistling recordings of birds and an interjecting synth melody. The sense of ethereality created by the looping of minimalist cello phrases continues through the slow bowing on the following track Mil Formas de Decirlo, and on the undulating drone underpinning Hacia el Vacío.
Fratti’s nonchalant vocals are a highlight throughout, recounting her attempts to connect and communicate with an imagined other but always falling short and circling around unanswered questions instead: “Why are you doing this?” she asks on the standout, Arthur Russell-referencing track En Medio. This questioning speaks of the underside to Fratti’s record – elements like the discordant, distorted guitar on Inicio Vínculo Final or the scraping bowing of Cuerpo de Agua and Un Día Cualquiera. These elements provide an insistent reminder that nuance and complexity lies behind every comforting collage of sounds – that even the right place and time will ultimately be subject to change.
Also out this month
Veteran Benin singer Angélique Kidjo releases her latest album, Mother Nature, packed with features from a new generation of West African artists, including Burna Boy, Mr Eazi and Yemi Alade, blending dancehall and Afrobeats with her jazz-inflected vocals. South Korean duo Dal:um release their debut album, Similar & Different, extracting intricate and experimental compositions from stringed folk instruments the gayageum and geomungo. Pianist and purveyor of Brazilian funk Joāo Donato is the latest legacy artist to release on the Jazz Is Dead imprint with JID007 – providing a typically infectious mix of bossa rhythms and punchy orchestrations.
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.