Anyone who doubts that Chile boasts some of the region’s boldest musical experimentation has only to listen to La Mano Ajena. The seven-member group, which blends traditional Jewish and Eastern European klezmer music with Latin American rumba, joropo and tango, returned to Chile’s music scene in late 2011 after a three-year hiatus, and is currently preparing for a two-month European tour this summer.
The group first won critical acclaim with its 2005 debut album. Its second release, Radio Galena (2008), was equally well-received and bold. It connected distinctive sounds of early twentieth-century radio (jingles, narrations and popular Chilean oldies) with obscure instruments such as the theremin, an electronic instrument that produces sounds by sensing the player’s hand movements.
La Mano Ajena’s latest album, Raza Quimera (2011), represents another step back in musical time. According to the band’s vocalist, María Fernanda Carrasco, the album is “a return to the classic spirit of rock.”
The group has shared the stage in Chile with New York’s gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello, and in Europe with Bosnia’s gypsy rockers Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra. Its appearance at the 2009 Küstendorf Film and Music Festival in Serbia marked the first and only time a Latin American band has played the event.
With a full concert schedule for Raza Quimera at home and abroad, fans farther north are wondering when the group will announce a U.S. tour.