Catalina Maria Johnson

International radio broadcaster, bilingual cultural journalist, music curator

Argentine experimental artist Juana Molina‘s music is a beautiful and strange creature in a category of its own, and no genre, Latin or otherwise, can adequately categorize its alluring ambiguity.

The short film “Lentísimo Halo,” which announces Molina’s upcoming album, Halo, provokes a wide range of mixed feelings in a fascinating kind of way, like a musical Rorschach test. Molina’s songs are meant to be carefully savored; they invite the listener to delight in the many layers of meaning that emerge.

Director Mariano Ramis created the film’s surreal black-and-white images using a complex technique he invented. (It involves frame-by-frame animation, an inkjet printer and, somehow, soy sauce.) A poetic stream of visuals accompanies Molina’s song as she welcomes a long-awaited, unseen visitor.

The cover for Juana Molina’s upcoming album, Halo.

Courtesy of the artist

“Lentísimo Halo” (which, as the title implies, is the slowest song on the album) juxtaposes the sensual longing in Molina’s voice against a menacing landscape, both visual and sonic. The ominous backdrop is appropriate, given that the halo she beckons refers to an evil, floating light from an Argentine children’s tale.

At the end, the singer calls to the halo and, as enticement, offers to share what she usually keeps hidden. The dirgey chords that dominate much of the song swell with a touch less melancholy. Perhaps the visitor has arrived. Perhaps “Lentísimo Halo” is really more about anticipating a long-awaited lover and sharing what we’ve never shared before. Or is the song warning us of the perils of certain loves in our lives? Take a walk through the woods with Molina and find out.

Maybe.

Halo comes out May 5 via Crammed Discs.

Published originally by NPR