Mabe Fratti – Sentir que no sabes

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Mabe Fratti Sentir que no sabes review

We live in an age of microgenres—sounds and scenes distinguished increasingly by greater nuance and squishier definitions. They’ve more or less been the defining wallpaper of the 21st century, burning brightly before fizzling into a puff of smoke or leaving their impression in unexpectedly enduring ways. The final boss of music is transcending genre altogether, but in lieu of that, why not invent your own?

This hyper-specificity applies on what seems like a song-by-song basis for an artist like Mabe Fratti, whose music occupies a space all its own—one with no fixed address. The Guatemalan-born, Mexico City-based singer/songwriter and cellist finds accessibility and beauty in fragments and abstractions, employing her primary instrument as a self-replicating building block for fascinating sound collage on 2022’s Se ve desde aqui and exploring pop through noir-jazz on Vidrio, her debut album as one half of the duo Titanic.

Sentir que no sabes, Fratti’s fourth album under her own name in five years, is composed from a similar set of instrumental and emotionally evocative elements, yet they yield a set of compositions with a more immediate pop sensibility. Once again working with her Titanic bandmate, multi-instrumentalist Héctor Tosta, Fratti builds hypnotic art-pop melodies into rich, full-band arrangements with a more palpable physicality. They’re, in her own words, “groovy,” as evidenced through standout moments like leadoff track “Kravitz,” which juxtaposes sharp stabs of horns against a deeply funky upright bass groove, the overall effect something like mid-’90s Björk paired with the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

The title of Sentir que no sabes translates to “feel like you don’t know,” and there’s a sense of disorientation that courses through these songs, even as Fratti shapes them into some of her most accessible to date. “Pantalla azul” (“Blue screen error”) spends much of its time in a state of stillness and uncertainty, just a sparse arrangement of repeating motifs beneath her ascendant vocals, slowly morphing into synth-laden grandeur with visions of Kate Bush and a hypnotic layer of guitar. “Queiras-o-no” descends further into abstraction with a spacey, Laurie Anderson-like interplay between vocals and electronics, while “Margén del indice” employs darker, more abrasive, industrial-tinged tones scraping up against pop melody. Yet Fratti just as often allows those pop instincts to break through the haze, as on the masterful “Enfrente” (“In Front”), driven by Fratti’s cello and a metallic clatter of percussion, with bright flashes of electronics like light through a prism. And even with its relatively sparse backing, the soaring chorus of “Intento fallido” (“Failed attempt”) sounds, simply, massive.

Bridging these moments of art-pop triumph are a series of instrumental interludes that provide even more mystifying breaks with the logic of pop music, further bolstering an argument that Fratti isn’t simply a one-person microgenre unto herself, but an artist whose creative direction snakes through more fascinatingly blind alleys and untread paths. Where “Elastica II and I” are abstract interludes that delve into oblique sonic constructions, “Kitana” is a harsher noise/experimental piece built on abrasive strikes of her cello. None of these abbreviated pieces are the focal point of the album but rather twisted milemarkers on an uncertain journey. The feeling of disorientation never quite dissipates, and Fratti’s aesthetic quirks always keep even her most immediate compositions from being “pop” in the strictest sense, but the way she bends the laws of physics and upends logic in these songs is far more rewarding in the long run.

Label: Tin Angel/Unheard Of Hope

Year: 2024

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Mabe Fratti Sentir que no sabes review

Mabe Fratti: Sentir que no sabes

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