When I first experienced Lido Pimienta's music, it was live - of all things. She opened for Saul Williams when the enigmatic slam poet was in town last month for an impromptu Toronto show at Tattoo. I had the opportunity to meet Pimienta during soundcheck. She arrived in a oversized hockey jersey, jeans and a pair of Nike Air Max 90s. She set up a beautiful floral tablecloth on a table near the monitor for her drum machine and sound system. She was organizing a portfolio box of colouring books and original prints, discussing her work with Saul. Turned out she was an visual artist, too. Hm... When she hit the stage, I would realize in more ways than one.
An enigma on stage, Pimienta proved powerful through her voice and movement. With bright, vibrant strobe lights and a documentary appearing to be about the lives of indigenous women in Colombia projected on a screen, I was put in a trance. Engulfed by the lights, sounds and imagery, Pimienta's set is true performance art. It is done with style. It honours her roots. It speaks volumes without saying too much. It's executed for you to unravel and decipher.
Last week, Pimienta released "Agua," and it's a perfect example of how her music takesa three dimensional form. It's elements, all ethereal, atmospheric, ambient and tribal, tinged by folky electronica, come to life. The music is something you can grasp. Even if you are not fluent in Spanish (she was consistently translating words throughout her set), or have a deep understanding of global issues. This was inspired by her days swimming in her native Colombia's La Guajira, which is currently experiencing a water crisis.
"This song is about rescuing water, giving her a song - canto - al - agua - to protect her, so that she can protect us," she says.
"Agua" is Pimienta's first official release in six years, and a track off of her upcoming full-length, La Papessa - a concept record that explores the negative impact and backlash against Canada's indigenous population.
Listen to the track below and experience the fluid, vivid tenacity of Pimienta's art.