Juan Wauters is becoming as prolific as he is emphatic to listen to. This is his first full length album since 2019’s La Onda De Juan Pablo, with his Más Canciones de La Onda EP coming in between. At its core this album celebrates the many connections and friendships that Wauters has established over the years, both musical and personal. In our interview with Juan he said that the idea of this collaborative album came about after realising how many crossovers appear in rap music and wanting to do the same. He then enlisted a bunch of musical companions to make an album that breezes through hip-hop, Latin folk, indie rock, synth-wave and everything in between. Like walking through a contemporary club with various rooms of throwback disco, heavy hitting beats and laidback lounges, there’s something for everyone on here.
This album acts as almost a diary turned radio station of Wauters life through 2019 – 2020. The initial recordings were done before the pandemic started but as it was being completed suddenly all these connections that are captured on this album had to stop. And although we may never know what others could have happened, this fact simply just makes the cameos and features that much more special. From the synth-pop infused “Monsoon” featuring Homeshake and his signature style of digital landscapes, to the ballad turned folk “Real” with former label-mate Mac DeMarco there’s an underlying sense of joy within all these songs. In our interview with Juan he said “when I met with all these people to make the songs with, those were definitely real life situations” and you can hear this authenticity of sound throughout. Wauters mixes the home style recordings he’s become known for on the likes of “Carmina Pensá” with the symphonic “Powder” to create a collection of songs that have one core element tieing them all together, Wauters resoundingly vibrant personality.
One of the biggest influences Wauters had coming into this album was falling back in love with hip-hop, namely Outkast. There are course Wauters takes on hip-hop classics with the likes of the 90’s nostalgia driven “Unity” with Cola Boy. And “Presentation” with Nick Hakim and Benamin that’s beat would be a producers dream to sample. But the biggest influence perhaps comes in the way this album is tied together. Through various audio samples, field recordings and voice notes there’s a human element tied directly into this album. Almost like the skits found throughout hip-hop classics these moments not only introduce the album, but bring the real world into every aspect.
Fans of Wauters classic works haven’t been forgotten of course. There’s still flavours of Latin folk mixed into the playlist with the likes of “Estás Escuchando” featuring El David Aguilar that’s melody will be left floating around your head for weeks. And “Lion Dome” with Air Waves that’s as melancholic as it is encapsulating; getting lost in a song never felt any easier than this. It’s in these moments that you realise how far Wauters has come as an artist since the breezy days of “North American Poetry”. He’s kept true to his sound whilst also incorporating more and more expansive and vibrant songwriting. “You thought my music was like this, now you think my music is like that” Wauters declares on “Unity”.
Although this album was completed during lockdown it’s very much not a lockdown album. Rather a celebration and reflection on those connections we so dearly long for. It’s a joyous listen that only becomes more vibrant on each repeat. With it’s depth in styles and sounds you find a new favourite each and every time.