Mabe Fratti, a star in Mexico City’s experimental music scene

While Frati attributes much of her growth as an artist to her involvement in the Mexico City scene, she first became interested in improvisation at a neo-Pentecostal megachurch in her native Guatemala, a massive concrete building that now Known as the City of God.

“During sad songs, the cello would play and the priest would ask me to play, so I would play,” she recalls, puffing on a mellow e-cigarette, her dark blue hoodie crinkling around her neck. “I had zero knowledge in improvisation.” Eventually, she started making her own songs and posting them on SoundCloud.

In 2015, organizers at the German cultural nonprofit Goethe-Institut stumbled upon Frati’s work online and invited her to participate in one of their international artist-in-residence programs, where she met Mexican noise artist Julian Bonnet Julian Bonequi. He showed her a video of Korean cellist Lee Ok-kyung performing and invited Frati to his radio station, where she met Barcelona-born musician Don Malfon, who was playing an improvised saxophone Pipe solo.

“To me, it’s unbelievable,” Frati said with a smile, her eyes narrowing mischievously. “Up until Guatemala, my experience with experimental music was with quartets, which was more academic, but it was very free and, you know, kind of punk.”

A similar sense of urgency permeates Frati’s new album. As soon as the clock struck midnight on January 1, she and Tosta, the project’s producer, got to work. “It’s very intense and sometimes dizzying.”

“Sentir Que No Sabes” features Frati’s signature gutsy cello and haunting vocal arrangements, but it also finds the artist at her “best,” as she puts it. While she usually takes a melody-first approach, much of the album is anchored by powerful rhythms inspired by what she calls pop “bangers”: Lenny Kravitz’s “Something Romantic,” by Alice in Chains, Argentina The track composed by rock singer Charly García and Peter Gabriel.

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