Lucrecia Dalt

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Commotus (2012), 7.5/10
Syzygy (2013), 6/10
Anticlines (2018), 5/10
No Era Solida (2020), 5/10
Ay! (2022), 6.5/10

Colombian singer and bassist Lucrecia Dalt debuted with Acerca (Series, 2005) and Congost (Pruna, 2009), then moved to Berlin and released the EP Lucrecia Dalt (Other People, 2014). Commotus (Human Ear Music, 2012), mostly instrumental, indulges in a gentle and ghostly hybrid of Angelo Badalamenti's gothic soundtracks, Portishead's trip-hop, Julia Holter's ambient folk, and some hard-to-pinpoint existential spleen. The manifestos of this art are the ghoulish lament of Saltacion over glitchy electronica and the ethereal trance Esplendor over finger snapping and anemic bass phrases. The beats are often the protagonists, but not because they incite dancing, rather because they enhance a wistful atmosphere: the wordless humming of Escopolamina is countered by a beat that sounds like a rainy mambo, and the beat of Multitud sounds like a slowly unwinding, rusty, archaic mechanical device. Some instrumentals are built around the simplest of melodies and just toy with it like a cat with a mouse: The funereal melody of Silencio is intoned by the synth, hijacked by a folk-ish harmonium (Julia Holter in person) and then repeated by the bass. The eight-minute Batholith is painstakingly-assembled electronic glitch-muzak. There are half-hearted attempts at regular songs, like Conversa (devastated by rampant electronic noise) Mohan, a whispered dirge with pow-wow rhythm and sinister guitar riffs. Dalt's music is lyrical and cerebral at the same time.

Syzygy (Human Ear Music, 2013) is perhaps too unsubstantial. The opener, Glosolalia, is simply a rhythmic vignette, almost a musical tribute to cubism. On the other hand, there is a widespread sense of surrealism: the aquatic musique concrete of Vitti, or Volaverunt, a dialogue between her recitation and a guttural electronic voice-like noise, and especially Soliloquios, where a melodic guitar loop meets a fast eletronic beat and a soaring electronic whistle. The album's main mood is one of mystery, impenetrable mystery, an overload of mystery, especially in the trio of feeble vignettes: the ghostly alien elegy Inframince, the growing pulsations in a pool of muffled tones of Levedad, the subliminal drones of Edgewise.

Ou (Care Of Editions, 2015) is a mini-album of four multi-part compositions, leaning towards abstract musique concrete (Over Unity), gothic soundpainting (the seven-minute Eleanore), and moribund ambient-industrial music (the nine-minute Iot).

Anticlines (RVNG, 2018) is mostly devoted to spoken-word recitation interspersed with some of her otherworldly instrumentals (notably Glass Brain) and warped elegies (Atmospheres Touch).

She started her timid march towards more regular song formats on No Era Solida (RVNG, 2020), although most of them feel incomplete, unfinished, and the best moments are still in the field of abstract musique concrete: Coatlicue S, Di, Endiendo. The one song that works is Ser Boca, which feels like a hyper-psychedelic trip. The ten-minute No era Solida is another (misguided) venture into spoken poetry.

She teamed up with Aaron Dilloway for the EP Dragon Loops (Deceptions Order Bank, 2019) the album Field Recordings In The Forest Of Colombia (2020), the album Lucy and Aaron (Hanson, 2021), and the EPs Demands of Ordinary Devotion (Hanson, 2021) and The Blob (Hanson, 2021).

The 41-year-old Dalt finally made a more accessible album, Ay! (RVNG, 2022), which pays tribute in her own odd manner to vintage Latin styles such as bolero, salsa, merengue, mambo, cha-cha, etc, adding instruments such as trumpet, clarinet and flute to her electronic arsenal. These are songs, and her singing is not exactly a classic of crooning. Impersonating the chanteuse of a noir film, she intones Latin-tinged ballads like Atemporal, Gena and Contenida, and then detonates them with glitchy interventions. The deconstruction reaches a peak of dementia in La Desmesura and Enviada. There is also the nocturnal jazz ballad No Tiempo. Imagine if the members of the Penguin Cafè Orchestra were agonizing before dying and performed one last exotic dance. What stands out is not only the contamination of classic styles but the impeccable production.

She also composed (on analog synth) the soundtrack for Sam Walker's horror movie The Seed (2022) and the soundtrack for a TV horror-comedy show, The Baby (2022).

(Copyright © 2023 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )