Monday, May 1st, 2017

Rita Indiana – El Castigador

Returning to the Jukebox after more than six years


Thomas Inskeep: This queer Dominican novelist and singer-songwriter has the vibe of PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, if not the instrumentation; “El Castigador” is dark and heavy in the best way. 

Alfred Soto: It calls shit on Trujillo and the rich; the arrangement is ear-prickling (all manner of banged percussion, a marooned guitar); there’s a sense in which Rita Indiana holds it together because someone has to.

David Sheffieck: The undercurrent of menace here is fantastic, present from the first clack of percussion and wordless call. As the song builds, and continues to build, adding an organ drone and a bassline and a structure, it loses none of that atmosphere while gaining a propulsion — in the form of the processed, almost shrill lead vocal — that suggests it’s rushing inexorably toward some kind of doom. The urgency is undeniable, but what makes the song click is how light it sounds at the same time: flourishes and mini-climaxes abound, turning what could be a plodding journey into a thrilling one.

Katherine St Asaph: About five possible instrumental payoffs are introduced — among them, a quietly seething organ hinting at louder future seething, a vague sketch of a future beat, hints at a future guitar squall. None pay off.

Jonathan Bradley: Towards the end of last year we reviewed two gothic and bluesy singles on the same day. It was a curse of a kind: I underrated Shea Diamond’s “I Am Her” because the lesser Rag ‘n’ Bone Man had numbed me to dirt and grit as a conduit for soul. Rita Indiana’s rich dramatics are more Diamond than Rag ‘n’ Bone, even if “El Castigador” never explodes with the force promised by its title.

Will Adams: There’s a frustrating clash between the music’s darker elements — namely, an organ that made me wonder if I was listening to Fever Ray — and the crisp snares and sprightly piano. For a song that takes aim at power structures and corruption, it’s played a bit too safe to really grab me.

Reader average: [6] (2 votes)

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