AC Buzz

December’s Catalan Music Podcast

(By CatalanMusic) We’ve opened our podcast with a surprising collaboration of one of our internationally most travelled bands, La Pegatina, with a powerful Bosnian fusion group, Dubioza Kolektiv. The new E,P. by this band from Sarajevo, which was formed a decade ago, is entitled ‘Happy machine’ and includes a song in Spanish, ‘Hay libertad’ (There Is Freedom), with Ska rhythms and Balkan fanfares, recorded together with the members of La Pegatina. The bands first met at the Sziget festival in Budapest, and they will undoubtedly enjoy a long and profitable friendship, as both La Pegatina and Dubioza Kolektiv have announced that they’ll continue to work together on future albums.

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In our last podcast we talked about Salao, an emerging talent on the Catalan flamenco scene and, in this edition, we’d also like to draw your attention to another new name to be reckoned with. Manuel Fernández was born in the city of Badalona, in the metropolitan area of Barcelona, and has performed as both a singer and dancer together with Juan Peña ‘El Lebrijano’ and the José de la Vega dance company. Manuel Fernández has made his recording debut with a solo album, ‘Por arte de magia (By Art of Magic), on which he combines classical copla sounds with modern flamenco songs by Enrique Morente and Ray Heredia, and also experiments with Saharawi vocals. The album, which features unorthodox and free-style flamenco, has had a remarkable impact, and is already being distributed in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Pedro Burruezo, a singer, guitarist and creator of transcendental soundscapes, in which he fuses the cultural heritage of the past with a markedly mystical approach, has released a new album entitled ‘La banda sonora maldita’ (The Damned Soundtrack), so called as it was composed as a commissioned work for the film ‘Història de la meva mort’  (Story of my Death). Although the film’s director, Albert Serra, was positively impressed by the material, it wasn’t finally used in the film, but he did collaborate in its release on the Swedish label Tormina Records, created by the Murcia-born alternative singer-songwriter, Lídia Damunt. ‘La banda sonora maldita’ shows an emotional, sensitive and atmospheric Burruezo, accompanied by his trusty musicians, rechristened as Claustrofòbica Camerata.

835917577_1387023807Young folk-rock singer-songwriter Joana Serrat’s latest album, ‘Dear Great Canyon’, has been one of the most talked about discs of 2014. Joana Serrat, an increasingly influential singer from the happening music scene in the city of Vic, is one of the Catalan artists who will be performing at the next edition of Eurosonic Noorderslag, the prestigious music fair held annually in Groningen, in the Netherlands. Eurosonic will be taking place from 14th to 17th January and will include performances by four more prominent and very different Catalan outfits: the Latin fusion of Sra. Tomasa, the electriconic experimentation of Oso Leone and the challenging rock of Mourn and singer and guitarist Maika Makovski.

With this powerful presence of Catalan artists at Groningen’s Eurosonic, we open our December 2014-January 2015 concert agenda and with the European tour of Las Migas. This band, made up exclusively of female musicians specializing in new flamenco, will be touring Austria, Germany and Italy. In Austria, they’ll be playing on December 4th in Vienna, on the 7th in Salzburg and on the 8th Innsbruck. In Germany, Las Migas will be performing in Stuttgart on 5th December and in Mainz on the 6th. Italy will be hosting 4 concerts: on the 16th in Palermo, on the 17th and 18th in Catania and on the 19th in Milazzo. Later, in February, the band will also be performing in Sweden; on the 20th in Gothenburg, the 22nd in Malmö and the 26th in Vara, and then in Belgium, with a concert in Herve on the 7th March. And at the end of March, they’ll be travelling to China to the Hong Kong Arts Festival where they’ll be giving two concerts.

In parallel, the ex-lead singer of Las Migas, Sílvia Pérez Cruz, who is now enjoying a highly successful solo career, will be giving two concerts in France: on November 29th at the Thêatre de la Ville, in Paris, and on December 5th in the town of Chalon-sur-Saône. The concerts in question will predominantly feature the Gerona-born singer’s acclaimed ’11 de novembre’, (11th of November) album, on which she displays her warm and temperamental voice in a repertoire of songs with a wide range of nuances, open to experimentation and influenced by folk, jazz and popular Iberian genres.

In the field of root music, L’Ham de Foc left a lasting imprint on the international scene and, now, the male part of the duo, Efren López, is simultaneously working on a number of projects. He has released his first solo album, ‘El fill del llop’’ (The Son of the Wolf) while at the same time he’s fronted a new band, Evo, devoted exclusively to medieval music. Evo, which includes artists involved in other prestigious outfits such as Els Trobadors and Aman Aman, will be on a 6-concert tour of Belgium in December with performances in Evergem on the 7th, the 9th in Leopoldsburg, the 10th in Bornem, the 11th in Heist-op-den-Berg, the 12th in Dilbeek and the 13th in Lokeren.

Also performing in Belgium in December are two highly active artists in the world of independent pop, Svper and Nico Roig. Svper, a Barcelona-based experimental electro-pop duo, formerly known as Pegasvs, and formed by Asturian producer Sergio Pérez and the Argentinean singer Luciana della Villa, will be performing on December 12th at the Glimps Festival in Ghent. And Nico Roig will be presenting his second solo album, ‘Les dones macabres’ (The Macabre Women), featuring intimate pop songs which are experimental in both their sounds and textures, on December 12th in Liege, the 13th in Ghent and the 16th in Brussels.

Saxophonist Joan Martí-Frasquier will be one of the protagonists of the Festival 3C4, in Rio de Janeiro, an appointment with the musical avant-garde and emerging trends arising from the classical music world. After performing at Classical: Next, in Vienna, Martí-Frasquier will be at this engaging Brazilian showcase on January 17th to present his show ‘Colours’ in which he relates sounds and frequencies with plastic artistry, combining sight and hearing in a sensorial framework.

Let’s turn to the world of Early Music and Classical. Jordi Savall, the viola da gamba virtuoso will be performing in Lucerne, Switzerland, on December 7th, Essen, Germany, on the 11th and Istanbul, Turkey, on the 16th. Savall will later be travelling to the United States for a 5-concert tour in February: in Austin on February 17th, Rohnert Park, California, on the 21st; Palo Alto on the 22nd; Portland on the 23rd and Edmonton on the 24th. This virtuoso musician, internationally acclaimed for the soundtrack of ‘Tous les matins du monde’ directed by Alain Corneau in 1991, has, in the past few weeks, been in the headlines as a result of his rejection of the National Music Prize, awarded by the Spanish Government, in protest against its cultural policies.

The work of Catalan composer Xavier Montsalvatge, a key figure in 20th century contemporary music, who died in 2002, will be returning to New York with ‘El gato con botas ‘ (Puss in Boots), from the 6th to 14th December at El Museo. A great opportunity to enjoy this original 1947 Opera, inspired by the Charles Perrault tale, which, on this occasion, will be performed by the Gotham Chamber Opera.

The final weeks of 2014 have brought us a new wave of record releases and we have specially selected a couple of the most nonconformist and experimental of them. Tiger Menja Zebra is a band reborn from the ashes of a group called Camping and its members like to break with instrumental and melodic patterns and challenge the listener with electronic frames, noise and an extreme range of sounds ranging from the lowest to the highest notes. “If anyone detects something familiar, they have to speak out as it will have to be modified,” says one of the 10 commandments that accompanied their first post-Camping album. Their theoretical ambition remains steadfast in their second album entitled ‘Super Ego’.

And from Tiger Menja Zebra we shift to another highly unorthodox band that defy generic labels and work hard to build a completely new musical product. We’re referring to a duo who christened themselves with a sexually explicit name, Macrobukkake. The band offer a highly original pop sound with psychedelic, electronic lounge, hip-hop and exotic dance music ingredients. Macrobukkake have gone a step further in constructing the pop of the future, with the viscous and voluptuous tracks that make up their second album, ‘Acapulco’.

To end our podcast we have one of Catalonia’s most universal artists, Joan Manuel Serrat, who’s celebrating his 50 years of professional activity with a 4-CD box on which he’s rerecorded the most representative and loved songs of his prolific repertory. ‘Antología desordenada’ (Disordered Anthology) presents us with 50 of his songs (one for each year of his career), and features duets with thirty or so Spanish and international singers: From Cuba , Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés, from Portugal, Dulce Pontes, from Israel, Noa, from Puerto Rico the hip-hop band Calle 13, from Italy, Mina, from Brazil Maria Bethânia and from Panama, Ruben Blades, to name but a few of the guest artists appearing on such an ambitious album, which includes some of the most emotive and influential songs in modern Catalan music.

With the charismatic voice of Joan Manuel Serrat we close our podcast, in which we’ve covered a wide range of new albums and the international activity of Catalan artists specializing in fusion, new flamenco, electronic experimentation and innovative pop. We hope you’ve enjoyed our recommendations and that you’ll join us again at Catalan Music in the New Year. Have a great Christmas! Moltes gràcies! I molt bon Nadal!

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