Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mara Aranda y Solatge: Dèria

This one's a bit of a find.

I first ran across "Mara Aranda y Solatge" in the form of a single track, "Romanç De La Porquerola", on a freebie CD with a magazine. This caught my attention enough that I eventually, recently, purchased the whole album it was from, Dèria, in MP3 form.That was a good move.

The album is, as I understand it, a set of modern treatments of 16th century Aragonese Spanish songs in some kind of Sephardic tradition. That probably sounds terribly academic, and to be honest, there are times listening to this stuff when a combination of nasal Spanish vocals and the buzzing of what I think are Galician bagpipes gets a bit ... worthily unprepossessing. Likewise, the harp solos can be a trifle obvious in their emotional effects.  But then some extra layers of instrumentation cut in, or the quasi-flamenco rhythms shift into higher gear, and I'll forgive them pretty much anything.

"Romanç De La Porquerola" is probably still my favourite song here, in fact; a 6+ minute track that, for the first third, sounds like a melancholy medieval lament for bagpipes and voice. Then the rhythm section kicks in with a vengeance, and Aranda begins an intricate duet with the stringed instruments... I still don't have the faintest idea what she's singing about, but it still sends shivers down my spine for the next four minutes.

"Els Contrabandistes" hits high gear faster, whereas "Quatre Traginers" stays slow and probably tragic, while "Bolero De Guadassuar" has a lovely double-bass-driven opening... Oh heck, I'm attempting vague descriptions of stuff which I like but can't claim to understand. I like it, okay? It's evoking a culture where I probably wouldn't want to live even if I could speak the language, but if this is what their music sounds like, I'm happy to go visit.

(There seem to be some pretty good clips of the group playing live available on YouTube, incidentally. Worth a look.)

1 comment:

mysticmuskox said...

Having just picked up this album, on first listening it it made me think that you might also like the Galician band "Luar na Lubre". We came across them being played in a restaurant in O Coruna some years ago and bought a few CDs of theirs in Spain, but they do now seem to be available in the UK.

Mark