In this musical landscape of on-demand streaming and disposable playlists for every mood and occasion, it’s really a blessing when an artist gives us the opportunity to slow down and really listen to their music. That is part of the beauty of Rubio‘s new EP series. Rubio is the solo electronic project of drummer, singer, and Chilean national treasure Fran Straube, who is best known for fronting and drumming in electronic rock band Miss Garrison. Following last year’s self-titled debut EP, Straube has just released a two-song EP, with promises of four more to come in 2017 through Jungla. It’s a way of exploring her sound on this project while keeping fans involved in the experience for a whole year. Plus, the strategy gives us time to fully explore each song.
The first of this series, titled R, consists of “Luz” and “Indonesia,” two songs that warrant repeated plays and engaged listening. With this new material, Straube reminds those who follow her many musical endeavors that her gift for rhythm applies to digital beats just as much as it does to analog percussion. The first Rubio EP pushed the envelope for stylish downtempo and dabbled in dembow, managing to be simultaneously cool and sultry. This new EPcito is even more experimental in some ways, and a touch more minimal. (If you must playlist these songs, slide them in between the latest Arca and Nicolas Jaar.)
If R can be taken as a kind of digital seven-inch, then “Luz,” featuring a vocal assist from Carlos Cabezas of seminal Chilean electronic group Electrodomésticos, is the A side. Together, the two avant savants deliver a smooth electrobolero, their smoky, intertwined vocals haunting the track like a ghost in a shell. Much like Al Sol de Noche, Straube’s most recent album with Miss Garrison, the sci-fi vibes are thick here. “Luz” would be perfect for soundtracking a Bladerunner-style android adventure film set in present-day Santiago de Chile. Lado B “Indonesia” holds its own by being both more challenging and more pop. With just the right amount of auto-tune on an anthemic vocal hook, Straube becomes a transhuman chanteuse, riding a jazzy production with subtle Southeast Asian references.
It’s hard not to look ahead and wonder what other surprises the EP series will reveal. You can probably figure out what the next four EPs will be titled. The only other thing we can tell you is that, once this journey is over, all the songs will be put together as a limited physical release.