Luis Mojica casts a pagan beatboxing spell with Wholesome
What would happen if the Dresden Dolls went full pagan? Find out with Luis Mojica’s new album Wholesome – perfect for fans of Pop Levi and Pretty Balanced.
I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you about music’s amazing ability to teleport you to another place. You hear a song on the radio, and suddenly, you’re there – back in the playground, or on your first date, or dancing with your friends in a grotty club. And sometimes, music can take you somewhere that you’ve never been; case in point – Luis Mojica’s Wholesome, which somehow managed to transport me to an enchanted forest deep in not-quite-America.
Photo: ‘Bogman’ by Nicholas Kahn
Wholesome is Mojica’s debut album, but far from his first foray into music. As a member of Rasputina, he’s added dynamic new layers to their traditional cello-based sound with his piano playing and beat-boxing. In addition, he’s also released two collections of solo home recordings, 2013’s Anaesthesia and 2015’s The Man Who Fell In Love With The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon.
On first listen, Mojica’s lyrics seem chiefly concerned with pagan themes: spirits, nature and love in the purest sense of the word; lyrics so timeless, this could be a collection of songs discovered from any point in history over the last few hundred years. But on closer inspection, the references to cars, computers and humanity’s increasing dependency on digital devices plant Mojica’s songs very firmly in 2016.
The contrast between old and new is a repeated theme throughout the album, and not just in the lyrics – musically, too. Mojica uses traditional musical techniques such as a cappella singing, strings and woodwind instruments alongside modern synthesizers and of course, beat-boxing.
Photo: Luis Mojica in Faerie Magazine
Wholesome is clearly the product of a musician who does feel not restricted by genre; he describes his music as baroque-influenced, but elements of both prog rock and hip-hop in this album are just as prominent.
The piano – the instrument Mojica is best-known for – features heavily on the album, at times pushing its way to the front of the rest of the band (which features his Rasputina band-mate Melora Creager on cello and The Dresden Dolls/Scarlett Sails’ Brian Viglione on drums). At other times the piano blends in perfectly with the delicate arrangements.
Photo: Luis Mojica live at Dragon Con
Mojica’s voice is an instrument in itself; it soars as he sings and his beats are like bullets puncturing through the track. I would recommend him for fans of Pop Levi and Pretty Balanced; music that isn’t afraid to dance with spirituality and flirt with technology whilst firmly declaring its love for the natural world around us. Music that provides not just a soundtrack, but an entire atmosphere.
“No one is talking,” Mojica observes in opening track Conquered. But that’s OK, because right now, people need to be listening.
This is a classic headphones album; one to lose yourself in for a while. Plug yourself in and close your eyes – who knows where you’ll end up.