Juana Molina – The Social, Nottingham, Wednesday August 30
Argentinian singer-songwriter Juana Molina is a former TV comedy actress, who has been steadily building her musical reputation. Following support slots with David Byrne and Jose Gonzales, she is currently promoting her fourth album, Son, which has received plaudits from publications as diverse as Uncut and Mixmag.
Barring the occasional wry aside, Juana’s stage presence betrays little of her comedic past. She cuts a slightly care-worn, slightly ungainly figure on stage, darting between her array of instruments: guitar, keyboards, and various effects pedals.
Her songs are delicate, gossamer-thin creations, delivered in a style which is part Beth Orton, part Astrud Gilberto. However, their gentle folksiness is undercut by a wide and sometimes startling range of electronic loops, which are sampled as she plays, and repeated back in accumulating layers of sound. Imogen Heap used the same tricks at The Social earlier this year, but Juana aims for a more eerie, unsettling effect.
The electronics verge on the ambient, but are saved from blandness by their weirdly dissonant qualities. Sometimes, the layers build up to an intensity which verges on the danceable. At other times, they fade away to near silence.
The sparse but rapt crowd lapped it all up, demanding two encores, and post-concert CD sales were suitably brisk.