Even in the midst of the very weird Ralph Records label (most closely associated with the Residents) the music rendered by producer Frank Harris and vocalist Maria Marquez in the mid-’80s stood apart. They could hew close to the slick, shiny sounds of the era’s synth-pop, but they could also render folky songs of seductive beauty. This crucial compilation Echoes (released in New Zealand by the trustworthy Strangelove label) brings together their most lithe and mysterious songs into one handy package. It compiles the impossible to find debut single “Canto Del Pilon,” where Marquez’s traditional Venezuelan vocals are run through Harris’s gear for a heady swirl of sound. Water drums, rain sticks, synths-as-bird calls all mingle with electronic backdrops, making for lush experimental listening that remains well ahead of its time.

Andy Beta