Agua Viva- El Hechizo de La Luna

Release on June 21 – Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere, El Hechizo de La Luna (Under the Spell of the Moon) carries with it a sense of planetary action – the phases of life, the moon, and everything. Agua Viva delivers an album where targets rotate around one another, and as much focus is given to the motion between bodies, as to the bodies themselves.

Making attempts to balance her inner and outer workings Josi Arias becomes Agua Viva. The Argentinian artist, follows her 2017 debut with an album that takes, and runs with the tonal qualities of the first, adding a sense of mystery.

Breezy pop familiars – easy synths, plenty of snare, and melodies that never get more sour than peach – deliver mainly Spanish lyrics of love, enquiry, and a dreamscape of spirituality and uncertainty.

Hara Kiri takes the producers seat. She does a good job of presenting the raw, faded edges of Agua Viva’s perspective. Also here, in the treatment of instruments there is a focus on subjugation of noise – so even at the most caustic moments, where distortion and fuzz are encouraged, they are reduced to mere texture – allowing Arias’ vocal work to sit above everything. It’s a smart technique.

Opening track ‘Maracas’ is a reverb heavy setter-of-tone. Slightly demented, slightly dreamy – the sense of otherness that we encounter throughout the sequence is established here with a retro-futuristic sense of 80’s drum machines and a synth bed that belongs on a lycra-fueled spaceship.

Agua Viva doesn’t shy from blending the beats from her formative years into the contemporary scene. This smudging of the tropical latin flavors with elements of rock, and US R’n’B makes for a beguiling blend – where art pop is the only tag required.

Here and there it’s true – there are explicit references to the moon. But the point is to not directly point at the root of magic. Agua Viva is concerned more with the sense of gravity, and the pull of some things over others.

“Nada Leve” is guitar-driven, and there are moments where all the talk of nature, wonder, and chaos lead us toward moments when only rock is able to articulate the urgency of a thing. It’s at the passages like this, and closer “I’m not Walking” that threaten to spiral playfully from the center of the vision.

Under the spell of the moon Agua Viva dances between meanings. There are passages of light and dark, a range of possibilities are noted if not pursued. Darkness, on the far side of the moon, is recorded only by suggestion – and knowing that things can become bleak is enough to inform the enjoying the beauty of the now. And El Hechizo de La Luna cuts quite precisely to the beauty of the now.

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