- 18 Feb 22
New Orleans artist pioneers “nature-punk” genre
Life On Earth emerges from a cauldron of curious influences: The Clash; ethnobotanist Terence McKenna; environmental journalist Michael Pollan; writer Peter Tompkins. Fling in a contraption called a Midi Sprout, which translates a plant’s electrical impulses into musical notes, and the song ‘Kin’ – which includes recordings of a singing tree in New Orleans – and you have a novel record. It even comes branded with a novel term, “nature-punk” – encompassing visions of climate catastrophe.
Changing gears is nothing new to Alynda Mariposa Segarra, the creative force behind Hurray For The Riff Raff. A Bronx native of Puerto Rican heritage, their early records are beauties of Appalachian folk. My Dearest Darkest Neighbour channeled Leadbelly, Hank Williams and Townes Van Zandt, while Small Town Heroes gave more than a nod to New Orleans legend Professor Longhair.
Their last record, The Navigator, was politically charged and rooted in Puerto Rican influences. Here, on ‘Pierced Arrow’, they sing, “I don’t believe in anything, this whole fucking world is changing”. Indeed, and they with it.
Segarra – a fan of two of last year’s great records, Kevin Morby’s Sundowner and Waxahatchee’s Saint Cloud – made a beeline for Brad Cook’s studio in Durham, North Carolina where both those albums were produced. Utmost credit to both of them; working with so many disparate influences, they have created a fine record with a huge scale, from the jazz-inflected ‘Nightqueen’ to the Puerto Rican-influenced rap of‘Precious Cargo’. Terrific stuff.