Art Forms

Catalan Music October - November 2014
Catalan Music October - November 2014

Hello and welcome to a new edition of Catalan Music’s bimonthly podcast in which we’ll be covering all the international activities involving Catalan artists in the months of October and November. Catalan Music is the brand name specially created by the ICEC (The Catalan Institute of Cultural Enterprises) for Catalonia’s music industry and offers you all the latest news and events on a happening Catalan music scene, covering a wide range of musical genres ranging from Pop, Jazz, Fusion and Folk to World, Electronic and Experimental Music.

We open our Autumn podcast with a selection of new albums that are bound to leave their mark on the Catalan music scene. So let’s kick off with a dose of dance music with a juicy vintage flavour prescribed to fill dance floors with fun and sensuality. We’re referring to the return of Fundación Tony Manero, a charismatic band from Barcelona formed in the late 1990s in homage to the main character in 'Saturday Night Fever' and to the world of disco music. The band have progressively developed their own unique style with sensual grooves and latin winks, with songs sung in Spanish. Some of its members are also well known for their involvement in projects such as Chocadelia internacional, Achilifunk and The Excitements. Fundación Tony Manero’s new album is entitled 'Superficial’, and they claim to have been inspired by venerable institutions such as Chic, George Clinton and Cameo to come up with a repertoire that promises exciting, high-voltage live concerts.

From the explosive updated disco sounds of Fundación Tony Manero we move on to the unique pop universe of veteran artist, Marc Parrot, who has just released his ninth album, '‘Sortir per la finestra’ (To Go Out through the Window). As the title suggests, Parrot presents us with a collection of songs that avoid the roads most travelled and the most established customs. Instead of leaving a room through the door, as is the common practice, this singer, guitarist and producer looks for more original ways out with suggestive dreamlike songs sung in Catalan.

Dreamy atmospheres are also the speciality of Anna Roig, a Catalan singer-songwriter with a French mother, who made her mark when she released an album of home-grown songs combined with versions of classics by Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Brel, Now Anna Roig is back with her trusty band, L'ombre de Ton Chien, an obviously ironic codename borrowed from Jacques Brel’s mythic 'Ne me quitte pas'. Her new album, the third of her career, is entitled ‘Un pas i neu i un pas’ (One Step and Snow and Another Step) and shows a more intimate and somewhat less theatrical Anna Roig, with emotional and evocative songs.

Another important novelty this autumn is an album by Pau Vallvé, a singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer whose musical career has often been linked to that of Maria Coma both in terms of their solo albums and the duo u_mä. Pau Vallvé developed a unique style with his albums '2010' and 'De bosc', on which he formulated a pop singer/songwriter format open to sound experimentation, with unorthodox textures and rhythms, and sensitive texts written in Catalan, which also make references to current social turmoils. His new album, entitled ‘Pels dies bons’ (For the Good Days) is a collection of songs that speak of relationships between two people, whether amorous, platonic or professional.

The close of summer and the return to school and work has seen a number of interesting pop releases. One of the new albums in question is The New Raemon’s follow-up to the much acclaimed 'Tinieblas’ (Darkness), which was released two years ago. The New Raemon’s new project is entitled ‘Oh, rompehielos’ ('Oh, icebreaker'), but we’ll have to wait a while before we can listen to it, as it won’t be available until January 2015.

This autumn, Catalan Music will be present at a number of international fairs, such as the Womex, which this year will be back in Spain. Womex will be held from 22nd to 26th October in Santiago de Compostela. The Department of Culture of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Catalonia’s regional autonomous government, will be there with a stand that will also be hosting a number of Catalan companies, 17 to be exact, ranging from production companies and management agencies to musical groups and institutions: Barcelona City Council, Batall Produccions, BCN Music Export, Black Music Produccions, Els Berros de la Cort, Blue Live Produccions, Èxits Management & Produccions, Fira Mediterrània de Manresa, Mel Semé Music, Muom – Barcelona Overtone Singing Choir, Petit Indie, Picap, Propaganda pel Fet!, Rosazul, Taller de Músics i Wam Produccions. Also present at Womex, located at other stands, will be seven more Catalan companies: Agents 4 Music/Love & Hate Music, Angeli Manuche Productions, Candela Cabanes, Central Art Process, Divucsa, Montuno Producciones i Sonde3 Producciones.

Womex will be presenting a performance by a prominent Catalan fusion band with Flamenco roots, Calima, the group created by Juanlu Leprevost, ex-bass player and co-founder of Ojos de Brujo. Calima have released their fourth album, 'Lumbre ... Canciones de carromato' ((Fire… Gipsy Caravan Songs), a product that follows the thread of gypsy culture across Europe, from Andalusia to Central and Eastern Europe, and features musicians such as German violinist Lisa Bause, ex-member of Las Migas, and Alberto Pérez, the trumpet-player from Muchachito Bombo Infierno.

Following a highly intense spring and summer in terms of the international activity of Catalan artists, many of our musicians are taking time out at the moment to seek inspiration for new projects. Some bands, however, are still highly active. This is the case of one of the best-known Catalan pop groups, Love of Lesbian, who’ll be travelling to Mexico, where they’ve been invited for the past two years to perform at the Vive Latino macrofestival. On this occasion, Love of Lesbian are set to sell out the prestigious Mexico City venue, the Metropolitan Theatre, with a capacity for over 3,000 people. They’ll be performing on November 28th, with a concert in which they’ll be presenting their already much-toured 'La noche eterna' (The Eternal Night) album. In May, Love of Lesbian released an E.P. with three new songs, 'Nouvelle cuisine cánibal” (Nouvelle Cannibal Cuisine).

The October and November concert agenda includes Central European tours by Las Migas and Jordi Savall. Las Migas, with the vocals of Alba Carmona who replaced the band’s original singer, Sílvia Pérez Cruz, will be offering their unique and renewed vision of flamenco art with three concerts in Austria: on the 4th in Vienna, the 5th in Innsbruck and the 7th in Salzburg, before travelling to Germany, on December 6th for a concert in Mainz. The band have also announced a performance in Switzerland in 2015, on May 2nd in Basel, sharing the bill with guitarist Gerardo Núñez and flamenco dancer Carmen Cortés.

Jordi Savall, the world-renowned viola da gamba virtuoso, who is a veritable institution in the field of Early Music, will also be performing in Central Europe with three concerts in Germany, two of them in Essen, on the 12th October and 11th December, and another in Bamberg, Bavaria, on 21st October. He’ll then be travelling to Poland on the 13th October for a concert in Tychy and finally to Switzerland, where he’ll be performing on 7th December in Lucerne.

Autumn will also be witnessing a number of new album releases and we’d like to highlight a few of them by emerging artists from different fields. Firstly, we have a highly recommendable album by Salao, the artistic alias of Juan Antonio Martín Yáñez, a flamenco singer rooted in Andalusia, but born in Germany and settled in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, a city located in the metropolitan area of Barcelona. Salao has spent some years perfecting his style, as part of dancer and choreographer Joaquín Cortés’s company and also working on several personal projects, both electric and acoustic. On his first album, 'Jara en el camino', (Jara on the Path), Salao has focused on the purer and rawer side of flamenco music, in the company of prestigious artists such as guitarist Juan Gómez alias Chicuelo.

Jazz Machín was a project created from the repertoire of Cuban singer Antonio Machín, fronted by the impressive vocals of Celeste Alías with latin sounds, an avant-garde attitude and jazz ingredients. The adventure has given birth to Celeste, who has released an album entitled ‘Canta Antonio Machín’ (Antonio Machín Sings), on which Celeste Alías has marked her personality on tropical classics such as ‘Tengo una debilidad’, ‘El manisero’ and ‘Dos gardenias’. A suggestive and daring approach to a universal repertoire.

In a very different register, we have Miquel Serra, a singer and guitarist from Mallorca who, last year, surprised us with his experimental and freethinking rock on the album '‘Roses místiques’ (Mystical Roses). Now he’s back with ‘La felicitat dels animals’ (The Happiness of Animals), on which he presents us with a collection of compositions that alternate evasive, dreamlike atmospheres, with spasms of electricity in a framework of post-rock experimentation. A product full of poetic sensations which he has created in collaboration with another Majorcan band, Oliva Trencada.

In previous editions of our podcast, we’ve talked about the highly active pop and alternative rock scene in Vic, a city located just 45 minutes from Barcelona (where the Mercat de Música Viva music market is held each year in the month of September), with bands such as Univers and Ohios. So let’s return to this city of Roman origin with its medieval town centre to talk about Germà Aire, a duo made up of members of another Vic band, Mates Mates. Germà Aire have just released their debut album, ‘Ball del cel’ (Dance of Heaven), which offers imaginative and somewhat eccentric pop sounds, based on electric guitars, and made with the collaboration of Joan Pons, better known as El Petit de Cal Eril.

With Germà Aire, the latest addition to Vic’s alternative music scene, we end our podcast, in which we’ve covered a wide range of new musical products featuring dance music, pop, flamenco and experimental sounds, and albums that give further impetus to the Catalan scene and illustrate its great diversity and, as always, with a special focus on our music’s presence in a greater international context. We’ll be back in a couple of months with a new Catalan Music podcast and we hope you’ll join us again. Moltes gràcies i fins la propera!


La Fundación Tony Manero - Lo haces tan bien

Marc Parrot - Sortir per la finestra

Anna Roig - Tocar fusta i menjar ferro

Pau Vallvé - Geranis als balcons

The New Raemon - Tu Garfunkel

Roger Mas – Caminant

Calima – Campeona

Love of Lesbian - Si tu me dices ven yo digo Affleck

La Migas - Dime que si

Salao – Tangos

Jazz Machín – Celeste

Miquel Serra – Dents

Germà Aire - Mantes d'ulls