|Xenia Rubinos — Magic Trix (2013)|
Xenia Rubinos — Magic Trix
Björk + Celia Cruz = Xenia Rubinos
∫ Music maker Xenia Rubinos uses her powerful voice to create beats and melodies from scratch. Her sound grows from a wide palette of influences ranging from Caribbean rhythms and beat music to minimalism and indie rock all delivered with a soulful punk aura. Xenia’s ecstatic songs feature layered beats, crunchy keyboards, and driving syncopated rhythms.
Location: Puerto Rico ~ Cuba ~ Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Album release: April 30, 2013
Record Label: Ba Da Bing!
01. Help 4:58
02. Ultima 4:49
03. Whirlwind 2:08
04. Hair Receding 5:37
05. Cafe con Leche 0:44
06. Cherry Tree 6:04
07. Pan y Cafe 1:46
08. Los Mangopaunos 2:49
09. I Like Being Alone 2:59
10. When You Come 4:37
11. Let's Go Out 3:28
12. Aurora De Mayo 0:34
∫ Drums, Marco Buccelli
∫ Bass, Adam Minkoff
∫ Keyboards & Vocals, Xenia Rubinos
∫ Produced by Jaba Jaba Music
∫ Engineered by Jeremy Loucas
∫ Mixed & Mastered by Jeremy Loucas, Highend Studio
∫ Photography by Camilo Fuentealba
∫ Photo Editing by Emanuela Buccelli
∫ Design by Mark Ohe
° Brooklyn-based keyboardist and vocalist Xenia Rubinos likes to play with syncopation. Her debut album, Magic Trix, is based around rhythms that sometimes are identifiable as Caribbean, and at other times veer into the experimental.
° "It's something I have a lot of fun with — just taking one rhythmic figure and turning it around as many ways as I can," Rubinos says. "That's a huge part of my compositional process, just messing around with something very simple and seeing how far I can take it."
° And that's just one of the ways Rubinos' music resists classification on the whole.
° "I think it's a good problem to have. Although I do aspire to eventually, concisely and clearly, explain exactly what it is I do, I'm not there at the moment," she says. "I don't really think about genres, and I think that's why my music sounds the way it does. I'm thinking more about texture and sound and flavors."
° Xenia Rubinos spoke with NPR's Rachel Martin; click the audio link on this page to hear more of their conversation: http://www.npr.org/2013/04/28/179281913/xenia-rubinos-adventures-in-syncopation. Xenia in Italy
° On initial listen to Magic Trix, the first album by Brooklynite Xenia Rubinos, one might feel as though one is being tased (bro). Little compares to the sharp, thick spine of keyboard sound that shoots out from the very first moments. An oblique assemblage of uncommon rhythms, forceful singing and dance- til-you-puke styles combine to make Magic Trix one of the most exciting debuts in years. Surprisingly, the record s aggressive sound is achieved without the use of guitars. Rubinos, with the assistance of drummer / sound magician Marco Buccelli, creates a dozen songs that bring to mind the adventurous spirit and whacked-out mentality found in the best moments of Rip, Rig and Panic, DNA and The Contortions. Rubinos expands on her Cuban, Puerto Rican and American roots, and while the songs shoot off to new stratospheres, they never lose the sense that the music is at its core two people banging on things, making a racket. It was such a racket that their home production of the album was often interrupted by paintings falling from the walls of their apartment as they recorded. Rubinos and Buccelli can also fully replicate the record live, thanks in part to the latter s makeshift analogic distorted snare. In order to alter his snare sound, he circuits the drum through an array of reverb and distortion pedals, projecting the sound through an amp at his side. Rubinos s songs cover intimate topics of family and travel. Help is based on a family legend of a woman flown to the states from Puerto Rico in order to heal a dying man with her powers. She brought over her six sons and lived under a bridge until she was able to afford a roof. Los Mangopaunos is a fantasy about the origin of the mice with whom Rubinos shared her Gowanus apartment; it chronicles their independent tribal lives and their lineage from Marvin the Martian. Meanwhile, Cafe Con Leche and Aurora De Mayo are original takes on traditional songs that Rubinos learned in her childhood. Magic Trix takes all its diverse origins and combines them into an aggressively danceable dozen tunes. Ponder it. Shake your booty to it. However you hear it, Rubinos s songs will get things moving.
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By Laura Snapes; May 24, 2013 Score: 7.8
°° Throughout “Whirlwind”, the third song on Xenia Rubinos’ debut album Magic Trix, there’s a joyous vocal choppiness that darts between speakers like a figure in a stop-motion film. There’s the seesawing groan of a squeaky door, low, crunching keyboards, and a hectic, roiling drumbeat that Zach Hill wouldn’t be ashamed of. When you listen closely, you realize there are words to Rubinos’ scrambled ululations: “When you get the feelin’ that you’re startin’ to wake up,” she trills, like an alarm.
°° “Something I really wanted on this record, and in general, is exuberance,” the young Brooklyn-dwelling singer told Rookie recently. She’s triumphed unambiguously: Magic Trix is a startling lightning bolt of a record.
°° There are four primary parts to Rubinos’ busy sound: her electric, smoky voice; overdriven keyboards, which often seem like electric guitar but aren’t; the contributions of syncopation-happy drummer Marco Buccelli and funk-inclined bassist Adam Minkoff. Magic Trix recalls tUnE-yArDs, Battles, Camille, and the melodies of St. Vincent’s Marry Me remade with a Strange Mercy-era approach– but true to the record’s title, Rubinos has a wizard’s unique flair.
°° Rubinos is of Puerto Rican and Cuban origin, and sings in English and Spanish. (The Spanish-language songs here are either fantastical, punky jump-rope chants, or sweetly sad lullabies.) She has as much of a cool, incisive way with intimate as political matters: “Ultima” opens with a collage of beatboxed vocals, and is exhausting and soothing, like watching an extravagant display while lazing on a beach. She coolly recounts how, in Cuba, simple things like going to the bank are different enough to throw you for a moment. After an indignant, yelped chorus of “Oye, yo soy la ultima!” (“Hey, I’m the last one!” your cue to join the back of a line) she flips the sentiment back onto herself: “You know it really, really takes a long, long time/ To understand what’s going on around you/ To grow and change.”
°° Magic Trix deals with the fear that time will destroy the things you love, but it’s not so paralyzing that you’re unable to take advantage of the new wisdoms it brings, particularly concerning romance– and Rubinos writes sexy, surrealist love songs. On “When You Come”, her keyboards take on a seductive, sleazy tone, and she describes her crush in deliciously weird terms: “He ties my heart in knots/ Just like Polish sausages.” Her odd, folkloric intentions (also: laying an egg into his mouth) stave off her impulses to look beyond the fantasy of the guy who “makes love to [her] like [he’s] seen something new” and folds her clothes afterwards, preferring “to keep pretending/ You are the sweet thing/ I made you out to be.”
°° Navigating the balance between all-out fantasy and dulling realism is another of Magic Trix‘s strong suits. (Rubinos channels Poly Styrene on “Pan Y Cafe”, where she recasts the mice behind her refrigerator as Martian invaders.) On “Hair Receding”’s vibrant mathy bent, Rubinos laments the passing of time, writ in the wrinkles of a face she’s starting to forget. The temperature drops on the ensuing “Cherry Tree”, where frenzied drums melt into blossoming keys, and she yells with frustration, knowing that her memory of this guy is already fading. By “Let’s Go Out”, the drums slump with dejection: She’s given up trying to remember. After the tropical wilds that precede it, the synthetic, silvery keyboards here sound effectively bleak.
°° Although Rubinos’ heart is aching, she’s not completely giving up on life in color; “I Like Being Alone” is a chirruping ode to solitude: “Because it means I don’t have to be something I’m not…/ Because it means I don’t have to consider you/ I can just be awful like I am/ I can be as lazy as I am.” It’s that comfort with her own ideas and company that makes Magic Trix so life-affirming, transcending its sound-a-likes to proudly show off a unique new pop personality. Rubinos’ remarks on exuberance reminded me of something the similarly single-minded Natasha Khan said recently, about our culture emphasizing art that is “down, dark, and fucked up– so when there’s unabashed joy, that’s embarrassing for people. It’s too much, or it’s not cool.” If you’re looking for a way out of those doldrums, then Magic Trix is the glitter in the dark.
|Xenia Rubinos — Magic Trix (2013)|