Diagrama de Ben, Luciana Tagliapietra
Rating: 87 ★★★★
by Carlos Reyes
Of gargantuan confection and gorgeous sophistication, Luciana Tagliapietra’s sophomore album, Diagrama de Ben, is an astounding collection of sonic motifs packed with enough progressive elements for an individual’s revolution and a collective warfare. Recorded in the fertile Tucumán Province in Argentina, this record nuances the solidification of Tagliapietra as one of the most exciting new voices on the continent. Targeting personal overhaul rather than crowd-pleasing delegacy, Diagrama de Ben arrives at grandiosity with a lavish orchestration worthy of a Renaissance affair and an allocated space in its digital environment. Tagliapietra’s instrumental wardrobe is rich and eccentrically hermetic, like a demoiselle’s turnaround toward social interaction. Yet, it is the songstress’ analog lyricism that also finds her as an immaculate renegade. Luciana Tagliapietra’s debut Los Domingos (YoConVoz, 2009) was an exciting revelation but bled from its ever-pealing ambition. Diagrama de Ben brings a well-rested singer with a devouring stream of consciousness and a relinquished wisdom of existentialism.
For starters, Luciana (a self-declared romantic) delivers one of the most beautiful lines of the year: “Quién iba a imaginar, quién iba a imaginar, vos tenés algo de ángel y de rock.” This gorgeous excerpt from “Trompetas” is a romantic rapture in a song rooted in classic tenor but that’s anything but traditional. The way Tagliapietra enounces her words is truly nurturing. She examines her vowels with delicacy and grasps from the obscurity of her often-contained throat, all while sounding sublime and delightfully menacing. The structure in this particular song is flawless, the first pronouncement of “Quien iba imaginar” is cynically insecure, but the second time isn’t. That accentuation of a group chorus is only one of the many small flourishes in this magical melodic garden. Plus, seriously, when was the last time a girl validated love by pointing out the “rockness” in her lover? I can’t remember it in music, but this rock of Versailles romance resembles Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, and that ended on the blade of the guillotine.
Often full of unnerving eroticism and transfixing melodic precision, Diagrama de Ben would be the perfect soundtrack to Manoel de Oliveira’s Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura. Yet despite my inclination to reference flowery films, it would be irresponsible to describe Luciana’s sensitivities as cinematic. Her condensation of the verse-chorus-bridge norm serves as a pop narrative that no visual art could undertake, not at this level of musical derangement. “Si Las Cosas” is a gut-wrenching, fleshy piece that through its disparate instrumentation manages to shift its humanism toward eerie complexities. Other numbers (“El Bicho” and “La Musica”) are proclamations of a widescreen disposition, like the coming together of Van Dyke Parks and Jon Brion for a single cause: the consummation of normative hedonism with technology.
There is nothing in the world of arts as exciting as the acknowledgement of "the form," which my favorite track on the album, “Las Carreras,” is a torrent of. Here, Tagliapietra sings about her desire to fill a room with gifts and craves for the day her lover will return to supervise her own shipwreck. The song’s topics are aligned with astounding structural fluidity, illustrating a Venn diagram’s intersections of love, desire, pain, and illuminating indiscretions. This is a precious album in symmetric skill and musical framing. The ending line in “Las Carreras” imagines a surreal scenario in which a dream about a horse race is both the cause and the liberating factor of love’s misfortunes. This is some beautiful, deep stuff. Barely passing the 20-minute mark, Diagrama de Ben is only missing a good album cover & a few tracks to go 'up there.' But as it is, it's fulfilling in all its seven tracks. Even in its immersive, flowery condition, this is close to musical poetry and one of the year’s best.