Argentina’s Lujo Asiático thread an interdimensional divide on the lush meditations of After Ashram. Musically diverse but always simmering with one hand touching the cosmos, the group spends the album’s runtime traversing expansive sonic terrain. Sitar, saxophone, synths, vocals, and a 100+-year-old harmonium open a welcoming portal beyond consciousness.
Infused with aqueous field recordings, from calming ocean waves to ethereal river flows, After Ashram lifts off from the opening moments of “7.5” and never touches the ground again. Even within the quiet spectacle of shimmering strings and crystalline synth pads, ancient energy glows white hot. Macarena Zorraquin’s voice is a beacon throughout. Faint exhalations become sacred incantations streaming through her breath, buoyed by dancing saxophone motifs and expressive sitar phrasings.
Spiritual jazz ghosts float throughout the album’s shifting spaces. An airy melody stretched into skyward drones sings with a divine effusiveness, calmly spreading into every corner of our view. Extended techniques turn textures into inventive expositions, creating inviting aural corridors to wander within. In other spaces, like the sweeping magic of “3.8,” Zorraquins’ vocals command attention in combination with ambient piano arrangements, casual rhythms, and organic drones. We must stay in the unearthly harmonic structures.
After Ashram is revelatory from a group, I was unfamiliar with prior. Ramble Records, who co-released the album with Lassi International, have had a prolific banner year, but Lujo Asiático adds an ecstatic exclamation. Soft and hypnotic features bring us together in a moment of elegiac grace. This has quickly become one of my favorites of the year.