In a day and age when most musical artists become prisoners of stilted genre-defining labels, Argentinean Florencia Ruiz eschews categorization. On her first U.S. release Luz de La Noche (Light of the Night), a studio recording from Adventure Music, Ruiz blends rock, jazz, and MPB elements to forge a truly original sound. Be forewarned: If you were expecting tango nouveau, then you're on the wrong train.
Imagine if Bjork had a chance meeting with Brian Eno, Edie Brickell, Carlinhos Brown, a virtuosi pianist and cellist and they all decided to make a CD. That might be a way to start explaining Ruiz's musical epicenter.
Many of Ruiz's songs begin with simple enough guitar melodies, but then often evolve and transcend the norm. The foundation is built upon Jacques Morelenbaum's cello, Ruiz's vocal pyrotechnics, and subtle rhythmic alterations, all buttressed by creative studio production. When Ruiz bushwhacks her musical paths, she prefers not to backtrack, and we're left standing along side her in a strange forest.
"No Esta" ("It Isn't") is typical in that it begins with a simple melody—this time on synthesizer. But, as on many of her songs, there is a surprising turn, and we find ourselves in an unknown musical barrio. As with so many cuts, "It Isn't" isn't what we expect. The impressionistic, one-minute-plus "Que Pena!" ends abruptly after Ruiz applies a few splashes to a diminutive musical canvas.
The pop-like "Todo Dolor" features understated piano from Hugo Fattoruso, who has played with the likes of the eclectic Milton Nascimento and jazz legends Hermeto Pascoal and Ron Carter. It ends with Morelenbaum's dissonant cello and an otherworldly piano run. On "Nunez" we experience the unexpected again when the euphonious is uprooted by an epic, Arabian-sounding explosion of voice, guitar and cello, only to be supplanted by the original melody.
The CD ends with the title cut. The first section is beautiful and simple, but then there is a 15-second gap of silence. We assume the CD has finished, but then Ruiz launches into a completely different melody. Did she begin with two great musical ideas that she could not ostensibly intertwine?
Regardless, Ruiz's penchant for the mysterious, the disjointed, the unrealized, and even the unsettling is what makes her music original and modern. If she has yet to become popular with the New York art scene, she most likely will. Adventure music, a label that embraces not only established artists such as Mike Marshall and Jovino Santos Neto, but also choice creative, fringe artists, has taken a risk with "Light of the Night," and this time it may have paid off.