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Maria José Llergo|ULTRABELLEZA

ULTRABELLEZA

Maria José Llergo

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In 2020, Spanish singer and songwriter Maria Jose Llergo released the Sanación (Healing) EP, her Sony debut. Produced by Sevillano Lost Twin, its songs reflected painful personal, familial, and cultural history bathed in field-recorded sounds, flamenco rhythms, cante jondo (the guttural singing style particular to the genre), and ethereal electronics. It earned appreciation from denizens of club culture and critics. In some ways, Ultrabelleza continues the stories from Sanación's songs, but from life's other side. Where the earlier songs revealed experiences of adversity, prejudice, and emotional and psychological pain, these tunes reflect emotional growth, radical self-acceptance, fortitude, and gratitude using autobiography and observations of land, culture, people, and social justice. Ultrabelleza was co-composed and produced with songwriter Marti Perarnau Vives and indie singer Maria Zahara Gordillo Campos.
First single "Rueda, Rueda" commences with syncopated palmas (handclaps) in 12/8 time (flamenco's primary time signature). As piano, drum loops, electronics, and vocal effects are layered in, Llergo's languid, slightly grainy soprano offers lyrics celebrating personal triumph. Second single "Superpoder" (Superpower) is lithe and lush, with pulsing synths, a syncopated flamenco percussion loop, and Llergo's reedy soprano delivering atmospheric dance-pop shot through with a flamenco attitude. The protagonist's poignant lyrics speak of transcending poverty and prejudice, "...That I can be a bullfighter, sword and bull, at the same time/I can already see it, I can already see it /Pure as water, heart of a fish/I learned to cry, singing, I learned to sing, crying/Together we are changing the ugliness of this bad world...." The title cut offers nearly cinematic orchestration as Llergo's searing lyrics offer a beautiful, steely prayer of refuge for those who feel unsafe. It increases in drama and tension, then erupts into a blessing of protection from a mother for her child. Llergo takes a risk on "Visión y Reflejo." Accompanied by a reverbed piano and multi-tracked backing vocals, she offers the lyrics as a ballad before a clattering 12/8 drum loop introduces her rap; it transforms the lyric into a manifesto atop an urgent synth layer and sub-bass loops that elevate her singing with flamenco atop the electronic maelstrom. "Tanto Tiempo" is a gorgeous indie pop song fusing standard rhythms with flamenco polyrhythms; drum machines join palmas above the resonant vocal. "Juramento," "Malahe," and closer "Lucha" are all exquisitely polished pop tunes with progressive instrumentation, production, and arrangements. What they share, other than the singer's voice, is the spirit of the palmas through different instrumental voices -- in the latter it's tabla loops. In 2018, Rosalia's El Mal Querer opened the door to fusing edgy dance-pop and flamenco. Llergo (who, after Rosalia, also studied at Barcelona's Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya with José Miguel Vizcay) knocks them down. Her wide experimentation on Ultrabelleza cuts across musical traditions from flamenco and pop to soul and electronica, with arresting lyrics, inventive beats, and sophisticated melodies.

© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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ULTRABELLEZA

Maria José Llergo

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1
ORACIÓN
00:00:34

Zahara, Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - Zahara Gordillo Campos, Composer - Brian Hernández, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Maria José Llergo, Composer, Lyricist, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal, Vocal - Martí Perarnau IV, Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - Martí Perarnau Vives, Composer

(P) 2023 Sony Music Entertainment España, S.L

2
APRENDIENDO A VOLAR
00:03:24

Zahara, Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - Zahara Gordillo Campos, Composer - Brian Hernández, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Maria José Llergo, Composer, Lyricist, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal, Vocal - Martí Perarnau IV, Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - Martí Perarnau Vives, Composer

(P) 2023 Sony Music Entertainment España, S.L

3
LA PUERTA ESTÁ ABIERTA
00:02:21

Zahara, Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - Zahara Gordillo Campos, Composer - Brian Hernández, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Maria José Llergo, Composer, Lyricist, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal, Vocal - Martí Perarnau IV, Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - Martí Perarnau Vives, Composer

(P) 2023 Sony Music Entertainment España, S.L

4
SUPERPODER
00:03:45

Zahara, Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - Zahara Gordillo Campos, Composer - Brian Hernández, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Maria José Llergo, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal, Vocal - Martí Perarnau IV, Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - Martí Perarnau Vives, Composer

(P) 2023 Sony Music Entertainment España, S.L

5
VISIÓN Y REFLEJO
00:03:49

Zahara, Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - Zahara Gordillo Campos, Composer - Brian Hernández, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Maria José Llergo, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Martí Perarnau IV, Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - Martí Perarnau Vives, Composer

(P) 2023 Sony Music Entertainment España, S.L

6
ULTRABELLEZA
00:02:34

Brian Hernández, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Antonio Narváez, Composer, Producer, Recording Engineer - Maria José Llergo, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal

(P) 2023 Sony Music Entertainment España, S.L

7
NOVIX
00:01:08

Antonio Gallardo Molina, Composer, Lyricist - Nicolas Sanchez, Composer, Lyricist - Brian Hernández, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Antonio Narváez, Producer, Recording Engineer - Maria José Llergo, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Lolo de la Encarna, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 Sony Music Entertainment España, S.L

8
TANTO TIEMPO
00:02:44

Brian Hernández, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Antonio Narváez, Composer, Producer, Recording Engineer - Maria José Llergo, Composer, Lyricist, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Lolo de la Encarna, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 Sony Music Entertainment España, S.L

9
JURAMENTO
00:03:09

Brian Hernández, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Antonio Narváez, Composer, Producer, Recording Engineer - Maria José Llergo, Composer, Lyricist, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Lolo de la Encarna, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 Sony Music Entertainment España, S.L

10
MALAHE
00:02:58

Brian Hernández, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - ODDLIQUOR, Producer - Marcos Terrones, Composer, Recording Engineer - Maria José Llergo, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal

(P) 2023 Sony Music Entertainment España, S.L

11
RUEDA, RUEDA
00:03:09

Brian Hernández, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Lost Twin, Producer - Carlos Rivera Pinto, Composer, Recording Engineer - Maria José Llergo, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal

(P) 2023 Sony Music Entertainment España, S.L

12
LO QUE SIENTO
00:03:33

Brian Hernández, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - George Moore, Composer, Producer, Recording Engineer - Knox Brown, Composer, Producer, Recording Engineer - Maria José Llergo, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal

(P) 2023 Sony Music Entertainment España, S.L

13
LUCHA
00:02:52

Antonio Sanchez Pecino, Composer - Ramon Sanchez Gomez, Composer - Brian Hernández, Mastering Engineer, Mixing Engineer - George Moore, Composer, Producer, Recording Engineer - Knox Brown, Composer, Producer, Recording Engineer - Daniel Alanis, Recording Engineer - Maria José Llergo, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Ayanna Christie Brown, Composer

(P) 2023 Sony Music Entertainment España, S.L

Album review

In 2020, Spanish singer and songwriter Maria Jose Llergo released the Sanación (Healing) EP, her Sony debut. Produced by Sevillano Lost Twin, its songs reflected painful personal, familial, and cultural history bathed in field-recorded sounds, flamenco rhythms, cante jondo (the guttural singing style particular to the genre), and ethereal electronics. It earned appreciation from denizens of club culture and critics. In some ways, Ultrabelleza continues the stories from Sanación's songs, but from life's other side. Where the earlier songs revealed experiences of adversity, prejudice, and emotional and psychological pain, these tunes reflect emotional growth, radical self-acceptance, fortitude, and gratitude using autobiography and observations of land, culture, people, and social justice. Ultrabelleza was co-composed and produced with songwriter Marti Perarnau Vives and indie singer Maria Zahara Gordillo Campos.
First single "Rueda, Rueda" commences with syncopated palmas (handclaps) in 12/8 time (flamenco's primary time signature). As piano, drum loops, electronics, and vocal effects are layered in, Llergo's languid, slightly grainy soprano offers lyrics celebrating personal triumph. Second single "Superpoder" (Superpower) is lithe and lush, with pulsing synths, a syncopated flamenco percussion loop, and Llergo's reedy soprano delivering atmospheric dance-pop shot through with a flamenco attitude. The protagonist's poignant lyrics speak of transcending poverty and prejudice, "...That I can be a bullfighter, sword and bull, at the same time/I can already see it, I can already see it /Pure as water, heart of a fish/I learned to cry, singing, I learned to sing, crying/Together we are changing the ugliness of this bad world...." The title cut offers nearly cinematic orchestration as Llergo's searing lyrics offer a beautiful, steely prayer of refuge for those who feel unsafe. It increases in drama and tension, then erupts into a blessing of protection from a mother for her child. Llergo takes a risk on "Visión y Reflejo." Accompanied by a reverbed piano and multi-tracked backing vocals, she offers the lyrics as a ballad before a clattering 12/8 drum loop introduces her rap; it transforms the lyric into a manifesto atop an urgent synth layer and sub-bass loops that elevate her singing with flamenco atop the electronic maelstrom. "Tanto Tiempo" is a gorgeous indie pop song fusing standard rhythms with flamenco polyrhythms; drum machines join palmas above the resonant vocal. "Juramento," "Malahe," and closer "Lucha" are all exquisitely polished pop tunes with progressive instrumentation, production, and arrangements. What they share, other than the singer's voice, is the spirit of the palmas through different instrumental voices -- in the latter it's tabla loops. In 2018, Rosalia's El Mal Querer opened the door to fusing edgy dance-pop and flamenco. Llergo (who, after Rosalia, also studied at Barcelona's Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya with José Miguel Vizcay) knocks them down. Her wide experimentation on Ultrabelleza cuts across musical traditions from flamenco and pop to soul and electronica, with arresting lyrics, inventive beats, and sophisticated melodies.

© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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