Wholesome is the debut material by Luis Mojica. The album is a string of piano-based songs that tell the story of the artist’s exodus from the city to the mountains. The record uses baroque themes, beat boxing, vocal looping, and instruments such as singing saw and electric violins to create unique sonic landscapes that paint the picture of each song’s story and emotion. Other instruments include saxophone, cello, oboe, flute, accordion, & a myriad of vocal harmonies that are, both, choir-like and haunting. Another review and yet again I am thrown a complete curveball of musical electricity. Luis is an American pianist, composer, & performer. He uses the piano and loop pedal to tell stories about the Earth, gender, and magic. Even as a brief introduction that serves as an intriguing and mysterious description. One that is already demanding questions, causing curiosity and that’s even before the first musical note has been heard.
“Conquered” opens the album with a haunting and solo vocal before it gives way to harmonious vocal backing dipping in and out, no instruments and just Luis vocals. Simple but yet effective. It sounds like a gospel influenced piece..A unique, eerie and somewhat soothing tone permeates from the offset. Track 2 “Wholesome” sees the introduction of piano as unique soundscapes are explored throughout.”Lady Bug “introduces some unusual rhythums and even Bjork styling vocals.
Cultural influences are especially prevalent in the likes of “Oh the Beauty”, before the album takes a rather melancholic approach, beginning with “Complaints”. A largely instrumental offering; the experimental, electronic oddities merge delightfully with Mojicas deeply dark tales and quivering vocals. Piano led tracks showcase his foreboding, anguished vocals impeccably, with his dramatic compositions enhanced by the workings of Creager and Vigilone Whilst the sonically immersive, “Black Magick is a philosophical observation of a stranger in a town.. His ever chilling, smoky voice carries over haunting piano before beautiful closing track, “Does Not”. The delicately sparse opening explores aptly seasonal themes before the introduction of dark riffs that see a sense of acceptance, The tracks over the course of the album often contain similar ingredients– gothic strings, terse pianos, haunting vocals, and a melancholy atmosphere. But due to the format and the potency of the style, you can actually get away with making some very slight music. At minimum, you have to write only one memorable, stirring theme. Record it in a string-led arrangement, and again in a piano-led one.
For all its spectral beauty, “Wholesome” feels like it should only be taken in small doses. The album simply doesn’t offer a cohesive story. To me personally it comes over as a collection of songs rather than one musical story intertwined. However the joy of reviewing is that an album can be revisited again and again before drawing a final conclusion. Imagination and creativity can still produce new interpretations that can go straight to the emotional core of the lyric and straight to the audience’s collective heart. Such it is with this release where more exposure highlights particular musical traits and aspects within the tracks that are not initially apparent. The track “Complaint” for example even offering up more influences -Tracy Chapman which was not there on first listening.
In conclusion I have been introduced to another musical artist outside my regular preferred genres and styles-my mind has further been opened to new melodies/rhythms and influences. Music opens the mind and on that level this delivers .Exciting, scary and also intriguing…quite a complex mix indeed on this debut by Luis Mojica.