Fusing the vibrations of South American spiritualism with sounds of contemporary folk and electronic music in a magnanimous tribute to Mother Earth, Lulacruza leaves us spellbound with their latest Orcas (2015).
Together, Columbian Alejandra Ortiz and Argentinian Luis Marrete represent the convergence of cultural heritage where the ritual wisdom of Latin America is translated into songs that represent aspects of both indigenous instrumentation and electronic production. Mixed and mastered by Vance Galloway — renowned for his work with Nicolas Jaar — Orcas exudes harmony on multiple levels. Its dissimilar elements amplify the alluring aura of the album and construct a dome of mysticism over each track.
The record is sung entirely in Spanish, but the power of the sound and the undulations in melody and time convey emotion regardless of listeners’ proficiency in the language. Orcas resonates with the raw power of natural forces and their impact on human observers.
According to Ortiz, the single “Lagunita” tells the story of an enlightened moment where the power of water ripples through memories of pre-modern times and continues to spring through the concrete landscape of Bogota. An electronic crescendo and structural fluidity project the listener into dreamy images of the streets at night when the sounds and senses of nature can be felt most strongly in the urban center. “Comandante” calls upon the masculine powers of the wind that work to deliver life-giving water across the land, a narrative mirrored by the track’s layered string arrangement. Organic and synthetic percussion create a whirlwind of sound around the lyrical movement.
While paying respects to the earth, Orcas also addresses themes of vulnerability and love; advising that one must let go of the fear to love in order to be awakened to the vigor of life. An elegant staircase of stringed instrumentation dives into these themes on “Subterraneo y Estellar” and provides a path by which vocal trade-offs ascend. “Uno Resuena” speaks of instantaneous connection — that spark ignited between kindred souls and the magical atmosphere that those souls inhabit together; with strong percussion, the heartbeat of this track mingles with dancing guitars. Adding depth to the discussion, “El Agua Abarca” raises questions about polyamory and draws metaphors between love and water — both ebbing and flowing beyond our control.
“Estrella de Alba” references another of Ortiz’s epiphanic moments with natural forces where a late night encounter with a praying mantis near the Mayan Ruins in Tulum announced the ensuing conception of the singer’s daughter. The slower pace of this song and more organic composition reverberate gratitude and awe towards the Earth, carrying significance in excess of their physical magnitude. “Callar, Llorar, Gritar” descends deeper into the sanctity of this relationship with the Earth, emblematic of a ritual where chanting and meditative musings call upon the divine for healing intervention.
To close, “Señor de Fuego” brings about a shift in energy and carries an upbeat melody brimming with hope. Like the sun rising over the hillside after a long, dark night, expressions of love permeate every pore of this track and call upon the consolation drawn from the realization that each being in the universe traces the flows of its energy to the same sources.
If the underlying themes and vibrations are lost in translation, Orcas is a breath of fresh air at the very least. It boasts a sound unlike any other reaching out from a simultaneously diverse but interconnected cultural web. It is mesmerizing, thought-provoking, deeply emotional, and powerful when supplemented by the album guide provided by Ortiz.
The very meaning of the duo’s name is, fittingly, to “combine” — the album’s ability to do exactly this with intimate folk arrangements featuring indigenous instruments and deep, electronic bass summons a trance-like response from its listeners. Accompanied by a breathtakingly beautiful visual album titled “Esperando el Tsunami,” this work takes on a larger-than-life quality where true artistry is used to both depict personal experience as well as reinforce the beauty of diverse traditions and our common heritage as stewards of the Earth.
Article by Conner Smith