Angélica Negrón, who some months ago was written about here, is not only a contemporary classical composer, but an avid participant in independent pop music in New York, more particularly in the scenes burgeoning in Brooklyn, where over the course of the last several years she – both as a singer and on the accordion, keyboards, omnichord, and violin – has devoted part of her time to the band Balún, a musical venture that she and José Olivares initiated while they were still residents of San Juan but which has since relocated, expanding along the way to comprise Andrés Fontanez, Noraliz Ruíz, Leonardo Velázquez, and Justin Wolf.
“Brought together by their love of simple melodies, 16mm films, classical and folk instruments, and experimental pop music,” as one reads on the band’s various Internet sites, with Fontanez on electric guitar, Olivares handling the synthesizers and programming, Ruiz on bass and tiple, Wolf on percussion – it seems that they all may in fact be multi-instrumentalists (though precise information about the part played by Velázquez in the ensemble is not provided, as far as I can ascertain), so depending on the occasion Balún might perhaps assume different configurations – the band makes popular music of a distinctly reflective kind: although it’s more sprightly than it is sad, it is also meant less for dancing than it is for dreaming.
Or at least that has mainly been its character thus far …
Towards the end of December, the band issued a new album, La Luna, on its Bandcamp page, and alongside the title track the song “Distante” may prove indicative of what this year might bring:
(Just today on the band’s Facebook page, a link was posted to an interview on the blog of the music label Si no puedo bailar, no es mi revolución (which is broadly Latin American and based in São Paulo), where, in response to a question about how it intends to distinguish itself in the coming year, the band had this to say about the direction its music will be taking: “los arreglos son un poco más rebuscados, la mayoría de las canciones son vocales, los sonidos son más crudos y hay mucho énfasis en percusión enérgica,” and in its songs fans may expect to hear “muchos más ritmos tropicales y cuerdas de ensueño.”)
While from the earlier album Memoria Textil, “Las Abejas” is an instrumental number whose texture owes much to minimal and experimental music – though these also are changed somewhat as they enter the mix:
Meanwhile, on the band’s Soundcloud page, a range of tracks from its various albums is provided; here are a few of them.
And “La Luna”:
Finally, a video of a memorable live performance of “Camila” has been uploaded on its Youtube channel: