CATALAN MUSIC APRIL 2012
Hello and welcome to Catalan Music’s April 2012 podcast which, as every month, will be keeping you up to date with all the latest news and events on the Catalan music scene and presenting new albums and concerts by Catalan artists world-wide. Catalan Music is the brand name specially created by the ICEC (The Catalan Institute of Cultural Enterprises) for a wide variety of musical genres produced in Catalonia, such as Pop, Jazz, Folk, World Music or Electronic, with a stress on international projection.
We begin this month’s podcast with a new album by one of the new Catalan music scene’s most charismatic bands, Mishima, from Barcelona, whose previous discs have been unanimously acclaimed by both public and critics. The band are great admirers of Brit bands such as The Divine Comedy and Tindersticks, and offer sophisticated, informed and romantic pop products. Just before Christmas they released an album, entitled ‘Palau’, which was recorded live at Barcelona’s emblematic art-nouveau Palau de la Música, with Laetitia Sadier from Stereolab featuring as guest artist, and now, they’ve released a new studio-recorded album entitled “L’amor feliç’ (Happy Love). The disc was recorded with producer Paco Loco, an eminent figure on the Spanish indie-rock scene due to his productions with Australian Blonde and other top bands. The title of the album was inspired by one of the songs featured on the album, a Catalan version of Georges Brassen’s classic song “Il n’ y a pas d'amour heureux", based on the Louis Aragon poem.
The border between pop and folk music is one of the busiest territories as far as some of Catalonia’s up-and-coming artists are concerned. As is the case with Isaac Ulam, an indie singer-songwriter from Blanes, on the Costa Brava, who offers a very interesting collection of freethinking songs featuring both acoustic and electric instruments, reminiscent of Anglo-Saxon psichedelia and the more alternative side of the Mediterranean tradition. Isaac Ulam released his first album in 2009, and a year later took part in the tribute concerts dedicated to the late great Vic Chesnutt. And now he's back with a stylistically wild and exciting new album, entitled ‘Murtra’, which is likely to position him as an alternative troubadour to be reckoned with on the current Catalan pop scene.
Another folk-pop creator is singer and guitarist Ferran Palau, who is a member and composer of Anímic, a band we referred to recently in a previous podcast on account of their much-praised album ‘Hanna’. Ferran Palau has taken time out from the band and has been working on his solo album ‘L’aigua del rierol’ (Water from the Stream), with which he demonstrates his talents as a singer–songwriter in communion with Nature. A delicate and magical product which is ideal listening for lovers of melancholic and visionary folk sounds.
Here at Catalan Music we’re well aware that we constantly and consciously refer to the fact that Catalonia is experiencing a veritable musical boom at the moment, but the fact is it would be impossible to do otherwise. At other times in the past, it would indeed have been rather difficult to find sufficient quality material to be included on the ‘Music From Catalonia’ compilation albums, which, year after year, feature the best of our musical products from different genres. The new collections, compiled, as always, by specialised journalists and dedicated to the fields of pop-rock, World Music and jazz respectively, are ready to be distributed at music fairs and festivals around the world.
And on the subject of international fairs and festivals, Catalan Music will be present at the Jazzahead Music festival, one of the most important events in the fields of jazz and improvised music, which will be held from 19th to 22nd of April in the German city of Bremen. Catalan Music will be there with its own stand and will also be hosting a group of nine Catalan music companies. In parallel, Jazzahead will also be offering a programme of live performances and there are three Catalan bands on the bill: Filthy Habits Ensemble, the Carles Benavent, Tino DiGeraldo and Jorge Pardo trio, and the female vocal quintet Coda.
Last month we talked about the infectious soul and Tamla Motown-based sounds of The Pepper Pots. This Girona-based band have just released an E.P. entitled ‘Time And Place’, together with the acclaimed Bostonian artist Eli Paperboy Reed. The Pepper Pots are set to take England by storm with four concerts: on the 5th and 12th of April they’ll be performing in Blackpool; on the 6th in Whitby, and on the 8th they’ll be playing in London at the Le Beat Bespoke festival, which specializes in 1960s culture. The Pepper Pots will later be travelling to Switzerland, where they’ll be performing in Lausanne on the 27th and 28th of April.
So with The Pepper Pots, we’ve kicked off this month’s concert agenda involving performances by Catalan artists around the globe. Another band influenced by Afro-American music are the young and energetic The Excitements with their contagious passion for the voluptuous soul of the Stax Records school. The Excitements will be giving three concerts in France: on April 26th in Angers, the 27th in Nantes and the 28th in Bourges. The band are also planning to give three further performances in June, in in Saint Paul-lès-Dax, on June 2nd ; Tours on the 8th and Reims, on the 9th.
The folk-rock singer-songwriter Edith Crash, who’s from the former Catalan region of Rosselló, but now lives and works in Barcelona, has released her second album ‘De l'autre côté’, with sinewy songs influenced by Blues music and raw rock. Edith Crash is set to perform in Paris, at the O’Kubi Club on the 4th of April. Another charismatic female vocalist, Maria Coma, will be travelling to Germany to present her second album, ‘Magnolia', on which we can appreciate her talents as a sophisticated pianist with a dreamy and somewhat cinematographic repertoire. After her unofficial debut in Berlin last summer, she’ll be back there this month with three performances, on the 18th, 19th and 21st of April.
Earlier in the podcoast we referred to the frontier and meeting-point between pop and folk music in the context of artists such as Isaac Ulam. La Iaia are also a band who could be defined in such a category. A young outfit from the city of Vic, they had a big hit last year with their song . ‘Jo vull ser la meva iaia’ (I Want To Be My Granny). Just a few months back they published their first official album, ‘Les ratlles del banyador’. La Iaia are now set to perform in the UK on April 20th at the Rich Mix Cultural Centre in London.
Also present on a British stage will be one of our most exquisite female vocalists, Sílvia Pérez Cruz, who’s an exmember of Las Migas. This young singer, who is also an acclaimed solo artist, will be presenting Llama (Flame), a project she fronts together with Ravid Goldschmidt, an Israeli musician who plays the hang, a modern percussion instrument invented in Switzerland and inspired by the metal drums of Trinidad and Tobago. Llama will be performing in Gateshead, in the North of England, on April 22nd, as part of the European Concert Hall Organization’s Echo Rising Stars project.
And another band who’ll be travelling to the UK is Taima Tesao, a duo formed by the young singer and actress Laura Guiteras and veteran guitarist Toni Xuclà. Taima Tesao offer an acoustic sound fusing folk, rock and latin influences with songs in English, Spanish and Portuguese. They’ll be presenting their debut album entitled ‘Zelig Time’ on April 14th at London’s Proud Camden club.
Paco Ibáñez, one of the most admired and respected singer-songwriters on the Spanish music scene, and a symbol of the opposition to Franco’s dictatorship in the 60s and 70s, will be performing in France this month. His concerts are regarded almost as master classes in literature on account of the quality of his adaptations of classic writers, ranging from Quevedo to Federico García Lorca. Paco Ibáñez will be performing in Toulon on the 17th of April.
France also regularly plays host to the great viola de gamba virtuoso Jordi Savall, who specializes in Early Music. Savall will be giving two concerts in France: on April 11th in Paris and on the 14th in Lourdes. Later, he’ll also be performing in Poitiers on May 23rd.
To close this month’s concert agenda, let’s talk about a Barcelona band who’ll be crossing the Atlantic to make their debut in the USA. Black Gandhi are a band who have made a name for themselves with a powerful product based on Jamaican music, and specifically one drop rhythm, the percussion rhythm on which reggae music is based. The band pay tribute to the spirituality of Mahatma Gandhi with a repertoire that is rich in good vibrations, as can be appreciated on their only album to date, entitled ‘Joy’, which features songs in both English and Spanish. Black Gandhi will be giving eight concerts in the the United States. On April 21st and 24th of April in Austin, on the 22nd in Houston, on the 28th in New Orleans, and on 2nd and 4th May in New York, and on May 5th in New Jersey.
One of our most active bands internationally are Che Sudaka made up of South American and Catalan musicians who fuse rock with latin and tropical rhythms complete with powerful social messages. Following their much-acclaimed ‘Tudo é possible’ album, Che Sudaka have released a new disc called '10’ (Ten), a title that refers to their 10-year career, during which they’ve given over 1,000 concerts in 23 countries around the globe. ‘10’ has been produced by Che Sudaka themselves and makes many a reference to current world problems, including immigration and the global economic crisis, in a festive, but socially committed, framework, to the rhythm of reggae and Colombian cumbia.
To end April’s podcast, we have an ambitious new jazz product, the album by guitarist Vicens Martín, director of the Taller de Músics’ Original Jazz Orquestra. Vicens Martín is a restless musician who has collaborated with singers such as Santiago Auserón and Cris Juanico, and has worked on numerous projects, including a Django Reinhardt tribute concert. He’s now released ‘Suite urbana’ (Urban Suite), in which, with a sharp and contemporary musical language, he portrays different scenes occurring throughout the day in a large modern city. ‘Suite urbana’ features guest artists such as saxophonist Gabriel Amargant and singer Névoa.
With Vicens Martín’s jazz explorations and his ‘Suite urbana’, we close this month’s Catalan Music podcast. For the past half hour or so, we’ve tried to fill you in on all the latest news relating to music produced in Catalonia, and the international activity of artists specialising in different genres, icluding pop, folk, tropical fusion and improvised music. One of the aims of Catalan Music is to act as an international loud-speaker to monitor everything that’s happening on the Catalan music scene. As always, we’ll be back next month and hope you’ll join us again. Moltes gràcies i fins la propera!
Mishima "L'última ressaca"
Isaac Ulam "Temps"
Ferran Palau "Sota una alzina"
Jorge Pardo "Zapatito"
The Pepper Pots "Can't let him go"
Edith Crash "De l'autre côté"
La Iaia "L'home que passa"
Taima Tesao "Wake upup"
Jordi Savall "Song & dance"
Black Gandhi "New life"
Che Sudaka "Quiero más"
Vicens Martín "El somni"
Vicens Martín "Es despertar"