Maria Usbeck’s Jungle Inquieta Journey

Well-traveled musician provides a likeable musical journey


It doesn’t seem quite enough to simply say that Maria Usbeck is well-traveled or cosmopolitan. She is a Spanish-American who moved to America at the age of 17, by herself, and has embraced her music with a no-fear sense of travelers’ serendipity. Her solo debut, Amparo, is a collection of songs written and recorded across the span of three years in Ecuador, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Barcelona, Lisbon, Easter Island, Costa Rica, Florida, L.A. and her home in Brooklyn. Not bad!

Jungla Inquieta unfolds like a seventies slinky sliding down the stairs. It’s a beautiful assortment of acoustic percussion unfolding in a forward movement, meandering and always engaging, right until the end. Along her travels she has acquired field recordings of crickets and chirps and jungle noises and they provide a painterly backdrop to an ethnic Eno-esque train ride. Usbeck’s vocal remains sparse and stays the right side of cool as it glides across this percussive ambient pulse which is accompanied by a stacatto Velvets’ piano and a Boards Of Canada bass line.

I have to say, I really like this. I like the way it is just what it is, slowly evolving without ever trying to try too hard. Music like this can go terribly wrong, just ask Peter Gabriel. Jungle Inquieta is all about the journey. It feels like it ends too soon.

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