“[Molina] sounds like Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier covering Nick Drake, whispering luminous folk tunes amid electronic thickets while acoustic guitars and pianos flicker like votive candles.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Prekop is a songwriter to be reckoned with, and the dynamics and arrangements on this disk have a depth that keeps luring you further in.” —Pitchfork
Argentinian singer/songwriter Juana Molina (Domino Records), whose sumptuous blend of tropical folk, bubbling electronica, and graceful rhythms produces the freshest sounds coming out of Buenos Aires today performs in concert at 8 pm Saturday, October 22, in the Walker Art Center’s William and Nadine McGuire Theater. A chanteuse with an edge of new Latin chill, the former TV comedienne is creating an international buzz for her disarming stage presence and beguiling vocals. Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt of the Sea and Cake play music from Prekop’s latest, Who’s Your New Professor (Thrill Jockey), a beautiful, crisp bit of offbeat pop perfection. Using a variety of unconventional guitar tunings and exotic arrangements, they offer completely unique structures, tones, and moods.
Hailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Juana Molina is an extraordinary singer/songwriter/producer with a remarkable tale to tell. Formerly a celebrated Argentinian comic with her own successful TV show, Molina’s second album Segundo was the first to be heard outside her home country.
Molina explains: “My father taught me to play guitar when I was five and I’ve been in a musical ambience all my life. During the summers we lived in the same house with Vinicius de Moraes and Chico Buarque; my father played with them and they were always improvising songs to cheer up the kids. When a military coup d’etat seized the country our family fled to Paris. We lived there for six years and came back to Argentina when democracy was restored.”
Back in Buenos Aires, Molina sang with various bands, working as a comedian on television. Suddenly, she was a star with her own show—Juana and Her Sisters—which became a hit in the rest of the (not-inconsiderable) Spanish-speaking world. She earned a reputation as the most acclaimed television comedian in Argentina, putting her musical career on hold.
Molina’s first album, Rara (MCA Argentina), was released in 1996. She moved to Los Angeles in 1998 where she performed the club circuit. Segundo, released in Argentina in 2000, is only now being released in the U.K. In 2001, Molina began recording her latest album Tres Cosas. Again, on her terms, in the very intimate setting of her home, she created a 13-track masterpiece of rich harmonies and textures. Molina explains the differences between both albums: “After two years of working on Segundo—a record based on songs with a lot of layers of sounds—I had the need to make a more simple record, only based on guitar and vocals. Then, I couldn’t resist the temptation of adding things here and there, but still, Tres Cosas is drier than Segundo. It’s more stripped off. Although songs like Yo se que or El cristal contradict this totally.”
“Somehow Tres Cosas is closer to Rara. Even though the sound is very different—Rara was recorded live with three other musicians in a studio in a week, and Tres Cosas was recorded at home in several months—the way the songs were written is similar. Harmony is defined with the guitar and vocals. I wanted to get back to the essential: a molecule of me. Like Segundo, Tres Cosas was recorded on my own. Alejandro Franov plays keyboards and sings on some songs (El Cristal, Salvese Quien Pueda, Isabel, and Zamba Corta). The fact I recorded less instruments and there are less arrangements makes the record sound more crystalline, transparent, and brighter than Segundo, and it is also more like what I can do live just with the guitar,” asserts Molina.
During the five years that have passed since the last (and first) Sam Prekop solo album, Prekop (who is the leader of The Sea and Cake) released two full-length Sea and Cake albums, one EP, and worked at becoming an established painter and photographer. Finally, five years later, Prekop is back with the same band that helped make his solo debut one of the most beloved records of the past 10 years, and has created another release of breezy, crisp offbeat pop perfection in his new album, Who’s Your New Professor.
Setting out to make a record that was completely different from both his previous solo album and his Sea and Cake material, Prekop used a variety of unconventional guitar tunings and actively stepped away from familiar vocal and rhythmic patterns. He goes on to explain: “I was consciously trying to get away from the Brazilian influence. It did seep in occasionally, but I was careful to approach the record differently. This time around there seems to be a curious blues quality to many of the pieces which has never happened before.” Like the previous record, the songs on Who’s Your New Professor were created in Prekop’s Chicago apartment, and were then taken to John McEntire’s (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake) Soma Studio in Chicago. To create the songs in the studio setting, Prekop adopted a new approach. As he explains: “I usually write the music before really considering what the vocals will do; for this record much of the music was written in a sense to support the vocals. This approach is pretty different from how I usually work. I was also hoping to achieve a fairly unadorned, lean quality, keeping overdubs to a minimum and focus clearly on the group interaction, also to maximize the qualities that can only happen when a band records live as a band together in a room.”
Archer Prewitt, guitarist for the Sea and Cake and formerly of the Coctails, has released three albums and an EP under his own name. In addition to being a musician, Prewitt is an accomplished visual artist as well. The third issue of his Sof Boy comic was released in July by Drawn & Quarterly. The character has been licensed in Japan by Press Pop Gallery where they make Sof Boy dolls, rings, carry-bags, and other assorted collector’s items. In addition to his comic work, Archer is a regular illustrator for the Chicago Reader and various periodicals. He has been included in the most recent McSweeney’s comic collection, edited by Chris Ware, and is part of the traveling comics show, Raw, Boiled and Cooked. Prewitt has had two gallery exhibitions of his original drawings and prints in the last year, and has a two-man show opening in Chicago in November with poster artist Jay Ryan.
Tickets to Juana Molina + Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt are $15 ($12 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.