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Rio en Medio, named after a town in her home state of New Mexico, is the work of Danielle Stech-Homsy. In 2006, Stech Homsy’s debut LP, The Bride of Dynamite, was released on Devendra Banhart’s Gnomonsong label. The legend goes that she had recorded the record in secret after a returning from a trip to Russia where she had been translating poetry, only sharing the music with her best friend, Sierra, who swore to uphold the secrecy of the recordings. Then, one day Banhart barged into Sierra’s apartment while the songs were playing and was immediately smitten, promising to share the music through his label. Three years later, Stech-Homsy is preparing to release her follow-up record, Frontier, on July 14th.
Rio en Medio’s sound is dominated by her pixieish vocals and competent ukulele plucking set over a pastiche of found sound and light electronics. Needless to say, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you enjoy the music of Joanna Newsom or Faun Fables, you’re going to enjoy what you hear here. “Fall Up,” like the rest of the tracks on Frontier, was originally composed as part of a series of interweaving poems, and the song itself projects this idea in microcosm as its passages fade into and out of one another with the recorded samples serving as connective tissue.
It is a fragile composition but the airiness of “Fall Up” is mediated by the sharpness of the found sounds and the harsher tones of the inorganic electronic instrumentation. In this way, the track manages to strike a balance between wispiness and definition, although the oscillated synthesizer at the end may be taking the latter a bit too far, closing things with too pronounced an aftertaste.
Again, Rio en Medio has a fairly defined audience; however, Stech-Homsy’s music clearly has integrity and shows no desire to pander to those who don’t “get it.”