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Soema Montenegro

Soema is a nerd. A magician. A wise woman. A child. A surrealistic poet. A healer. She can reproduce with her voice the sound of the cats when they are seeking for a lover and cooks the best chipás that I ever ate.

Today I`m her live producer, the first time that I organized a concert for her I noticed that she was worried about trying to sing directly into the mic. During the soundcheck she remained still but when she went into the song, she closed her eyes, stepped back and sung loud and freely. Then she noticed the mic again and tryed to stay in front of it. I believe that the mic was turned on only for one whole song. With the sound operator we decided to turn it off for the rest of the show. She never knew about it.
I filmed that concert and focused my eyes on her shapeless shadow, the movements of her hands, and her voice filling up the space. I thought about the beginning of the music, a cavern, a fire, a gathering. I started working with her as part of my work on Noseso Records, a small label of experimental music. Zelmar Garin, one of the founders of the label wanted Soema to record her music, but she had no interest on doing an album.

They recorded it at Zelmar’s house. When I listened Uno Una Uno, the album, I immediately wanted to organize concerts for her. She sold 1000 records. Alone, far from the press and the big stages.

Throughout our work we developed a close bond of friendship, based on our mutual nerdiness, our dark skin, love for cooking, making puns, changing the meaning of the words, we spend hours walking, talking about the language, methaphysics, feellings, and the way we are flowing trough life. She always has sparkles in the eyes and her smile shines as a full moon. Another shiny good friend, Stephan Eloise Gras, carried a bunch of Noseso Records albums to France and so Vincent Moon listened to Soema’s first record.

When he came to Argentina, Vincent took a train with me to Haedo, where Soema and Jorge`s house is, we drank tea, looked into each other eyes, looking for a language in wich we could talk. Vincent scratched his head under his beret and sometimes would write a short note on his Moleskin. We went to eat icecream, walked around the neighbourhood and Vincent and I came back together by train. She didn´t sung that day. He only heard her singing when he filmed her. Vincent speaks a terrible spanish but he got the essence of the music of Soema: a love story.

A radio host once ask her where she was born, because of her native face he thougth that she was from the north of Argentina. She told him how she was born on Laferrere in the outside of Buenos Aires, sung a song and once she finished the host said:

“Let me ask again, in wich planet were you born?”.

Luckily for us, she was born and living tenderly on this planet.

Jorge (her boyfriend and bandoneonist) and Soema are musicians devoted to the music, they both studied in a conservatory for many years, keep learning and teaching, and their work has no show, their performances are more like a ritual. They travelled through the jungle, went up to the Puna, learned from old native women and their new album will be named Passionaria.

Jorge is the co producer and the musialc arranger of this new album, Soema says about their colaboration: “I feel that I hear vocies and words and that Jorge listens all the landsacape that those vocies and words bring, he has the gift of materialize the intangibly with sounds…To me that is a good definition of what an musical arranger is”.

We are working now on a tour, that is more like an existential trip. Soema invites to an initiatory and informative travel through the history of the song: she proposes to study the roots in their places of origin, as she presents her solist project which is nourished with all that she studied before. A tour with the objective to learn and share.

According to Soema: “To refer to Latin-American ethnic and popular song means to forget the historical linearity, which becomes confused, and to submerge itself in the singular depth of this continent, its people, its races. The history, directed towards the development and progress, appears empty. Today we know that many of the facts and historical events that happened in that continent generated and generate the loss or the disappearance of the knowledge and the richness of the cultural native practices. I wish to offer a new glance to the institutions that educate and train the singers and the musicians from the Argentinian or Latin-American folk point of view. These institutions offer to the musicians some tools that they can discover by themselves. By doing this they allow themselves to seek and experiment the ethnical and folkloric Afro-Americans roots. I propose to build a true exchange with other institutions that are also working the vocal experimentation and investigation under this angle.”

It’s hard for me to listen to other music after hearing her playing live. I got introspective and yet having listened her songs many times I got surprised as if those songs where born in the same moment that she is singing them. Soema`s music is natural as a scream during a childbirth and still awakes our amazement. That lead us to questions and to think, to walk a croassroad where philosophy and metaphysics meets.

Talking about Soema with my partner Darío Martínez, we remembered a phrase of Brian Eno: “The idea is to produce something that result strange and mysterious to the listener as the first music he has heard”. I believe that any listener can feel this with Soema`s music , and Soema herself too. To me her music is like the sunrise: ancient and new everytime.

Text by Pablo Bobadilla