Berlin-based Colombian noisemaker Lucrecia Dalt ties off a blistering run of releases with her latest album proper, the follow-up to 2020's acclaimed "No Era Solida". Using Latin American rhythms like bolero, sasa and merengue, and singing in Spanish for the first time in almost a decade, Dalt brings contemporary speculative intrigue to elements all too often left in the past.
Dalt has had a prolific couple of years, collaborating with Midwestern noise baron Aaron Dilloway on the ace "Lucy & Aaron", and assembling two full-length scores, one for low-budget gore movie "The Seed" and one for HBO's new comedy horror show "The Baby". On "¡Ay!", she goes back to her roots, singing in Spanish for the first time since 2013's "Syzygy" and harnessing an array of traditional Latin American musical forms, like mambo, bolero and salsa. But since this is Dalt, nothing's left to fester in tradition or repetition - she spikes her sounds with a serum of bubbly science fiction, something she's been able to refine on her recent soundtrack work. So on first single 'No Tiempo' - fittingly the album's opening track - Dalt mirrors a mood we recognize from weirdo sci-fi gem "La Cité des enfants perdus" (scored by Angelo Badalamenti, no less), driving weirdo futurism through carnivalesque bolero frameworks.
Her production, usually focused on serrated electronics and impressive percussion, is now stripped to the bare essentials. She's assisted by a handful of talented players - Nick Dunston and Isabel Rößler on double bass, Edith Steyer on flute and clarinet, Angelina Allemano on trumpet, Alex Lázaro on percussion - and she allows these elements to shine alongside her breathy cabaret vocals. Pinprick rhythms propel 'El Galatzó', but it's Dalt's voice - evocative spoken word backed by Camille Mandoki's coos - that completes the stage smoke-stifled atmosphere. Electronics bubble up to the surface on 'Dicen', but it's nothing with a particularly contemporary bent: Dalt prefers to give a nod to the early days of synths and tape music, using "Forbidden Planet"-esque whoops and slap-back whirrs to nudge into her metallic rhythms.
Dalt makes a direct connection with the past, deliberately mimicking the smokey music-hall vocals that often accompanied them, but simultaneously reframing each sound, placing us in a bizarre alternate timeline. It's like listening to a soundtrack to an expressive South American movie (we're thinking Lucrecia Martel here, and not just cos of the name) - just as you've settled into an assurance that it's set in the past, you slowly realize that it's actually somewhere deep in the future.