Catalan! Arts

Compilation CD World Music from Catalonia 2015
Compilation CD World Music from Catalonia 2015

World Music from Catalonia 2015: tracks selected by Marc Isern (music journalist) in collaboration with Jordi Lara (writer),Miguel Amorós (Globalbeats Dj and music journalist), MariaJo López Vilalta (journalist and music activist), Jordi Urpí (music chronicler), Francesc Viladiu (music programmer) and ICEC.

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Oques Grasses
Oques Grasses: Sexy (3:15)
CD: “Oques Grasses”
Author: Sexy

Osona band Oques Grasses’ career has been meteoric. Their debut album, a marvellous reinterpretation of reggae in a fun surrealist format, took them from YouTube to the stages of every Festa Major in Catalonia. Since then, they’ve brought out a second CD and filled venues as major as Razzmatazz in Barcelona. Young, cheeky, rowdy, unpredictable and, above all, great musicians, they’ve put together songs as essential as Sexy.

Txarango: Som un riu (4:35)
CD: “Txarango”
Author: Som un riu

With only two albums on the market, Txarango is one of best and most popular festive music bands in Catalonia. Thousands chorus their songs; they have filled venues as memorable as Palau de la Música and have even created the successful Clownia, a festival that fuses music and circus. Their music is sensitive and festive, exciting and positive. As they say themselves: “Hope is not waiting for a dream. Hope is going out and finding it”.

Che Sudaka
Che Sudaka: La ley del miedo (3:26)
CD: “Che Sudaka”
Author: La ley del miedo

Che Sudaka is the Catalan group that plays the most concerts around the world. Created in Barcelona in 2002 by Argentinian and Colombian musicians who were undocumented immigrants, they are now a consolidated band with over 1,200 concerts under their belt in 40 countries on 3 continents. They play ‘punk reggae party’, which they also call ‘makina punk’, and have just brought out their sixth album, Hoy, which features Gogol Bordello, a group they get on very well with.

Alma Afrobeat Ensemble
Alma Afrobeat Ensemble: Majority Whip (6:34)
CD: “Alma Afrobeat Ensemble”
Author: Majority Whip

Created in Chicago in 2003 and moved to Barcelona shortly after, Alma Afrobeat Ensemble has become the gold standard of African music in Spain. The band consists of 10 musicians from four continents who use afrobeat to modernise African rhythm with elements from all over the world: Latin, psychedelic, hip hop... Two CDs, one remix and one explosive live album bear this out.

Bongo Botrako
Bongo Botrako: Mundo nuevo (4:18)
CD: “Bongo Botrako”
Author: Mundo nuevo

Bongo Botrako has one of the wildest, most earth-shattering and danceable live acts in Catalonia. Through years of sheer hard work and road trips they have made a name for themselves on the European alternative rock scene. Their style is ‘punk parranda’, somewhere between the rule-breaking of The Clash and the festive spirit of Mano Negra. They became known through their hit Todos los días sale el sol (10 million plays on YouTube, 5 million on Spotify), which has become a mere anecdote in a long career.

Pantanito: Cosas que tienen vida (3:00)
CD: “Pantanito”
Author: Cosas que tienen vida

It all started when José Antonio Bejarano, alias Jose Pantanito, discovered the flamenco rumba of Los Chunguitos, Los Chichos, Manzanita and Toni el Gitano. He got a band together and started making music and songs that at first he called neocalorrismo and have since found their own place between flamenco, rock ‘n’ roll and Latin pop. After five years’ silence, he brought out some new songs in 2014 under the lively title Força Vita!

Barcelona Gipsy Klezmer Orchestra
Barcelona Gipsy Klezmer Orchestra: Djelem Djelem (4:53)
CD: “Barcelona Gipsy Klezmer Orchestra”
Author: Djelem Djelem

Balkan music is also leaving its mark on Catalonia. The Barcelona Gipsy Klezmer Orchestra is made up of musicians who hail from Serbia, India, Italy, France, Germany, Greece and Catalonia and reinterpret old and popular songs from the gypsy heritage of the Balkans and Klezmer. They got together in gypsy jazz and Balkan music jam sessions and now have their first album out, called Imbarca.

La Sra. Tomasa
La Sra. Tomasa: La fusión (3:13)
CD: “La Sra. Tomasa”
Author: La fusión

This young Catalan band is one of the musical surprises of the year. Their debut album, Corazón, bombo y son, is an impudent mix of drum ‘n’ bass, dubstep, house, Latin, reggae, funk, cumbia and hip hop. As good live as they are on CD, which made them the hit of Eurosonic, this is one of the bands of the moment. Reminiscent of both P18 and Sargento García or New Yorkers Yerbabuena, they are so sickeningly young, they’ll conquer the world. La-Sra-Tomasa/316797775044169

Achilifunk Sound System
Achilifunk Sound System: Chaví (4:47)
CD: “Achilifunk Sound System”
Author: Chaví

Txarly Brown is the non-gypsy who knows the most about Catalan rumba. Illustrator, DJ, record collector and scholar—almost archaeologist—of the genre, in 2009 he created the ‘Gipsy Soul’ concept. This label explains the connection between Catalan rumba and African-American ‘60s and ‘70s music, especially soul and funk. Having given birth to the concept, he started the successful Achilifunk saga, which rescued forgotten gems and re-wrote the present and the future of the genre. Achilifunk Sound System is a combo that mixes the Achili of gypsies Sam Mosketón and Rambo with the funk of non-gypsies Txarly Brown himself and Lalo López of Fundación Tony Manero.

Moya Kalongo
Moya Kalongo: Celebra Mix (4:31)
CD: “Moya Kalongo”
Author: Celebra Mix

Only good things can come from the joining of musicians from Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Uruguay and Catalonia with professional experience with names such as Manu Chao, Mala Rodríguez, Cheik Lo or La Troba Kung-Fú. Moya Kalongo is a musical pearl of Barcelona. An afrofunk group that respects tradition and looks the future in the face. Their latest album, Reload, features remixes like Celebra Mix, by Professor Angel Sound (formerly Professor Angel Dust).

Yacine & The Oriental Groove
Yacine & The Oriental Groove: Waalah (3:58)
CD: “Yacine & The Oriental Groove”
Author: Waalah

Yacine Belahcene is a Catalan singer of Algerian origin who livened up the Barcelona fusion scene at the end of the ‘90s as front man of the group Cheb Balowski. In 2010 he formed Yacine & The Oriental Groove with Greek lutist Yannis Papaioannou, to manufacture a festive musical journey that goes from Algerian folk to Greek music, funk and electronic. The fantastic Waalah is a track from the latest self-released EP, Un bosc llenyós.

Lenacay: Amanece el cielo hoy (3:34)
CD: “Lenacay”
Author: Amanece el cielo hoy

The international Ojos de Brujo was a group made up of talented musicians from a number of disciplines who revolutionised the flamenco and European alternative rock scenes in the early nineties. Following the death of the mother band, its members each went their own way. Two of the most charismatic founders, flamenco guitarist Ramon Giménez and DJ and electronic artist Panko, started Lenacay to continue experimenting with Flamenco sounds, funk and more advanced electronic music.

Tori Sparks
Tori Sparks: Everybody Knows (5:29)
CD: “Tori Sparks”
Author: Everybody Knows

When Chicago-born Tori Sparks discovered Barcelona she fell in love with the place. Despite a background in rock, jazz and blues, she started to incorporate other influences found in the city into her music. The result is the disc El mar, full of black music (such as covers of Roy Orbison and Leonard Cohen) and a flamenco fusion instrumental base provided by the backing band Calamento.

Salao: Martinete (3:14)
CD: “Salao”
Author: Martinete

Salao is a free spirit. A flamenco singer born in Germany of Andalusian parents, who started singing rumba at a very young age and later travelled the world as part of the flamenco troupe of dancer Joaquín Cortés. Over the years he has become a flamenco singer that chills the blood. He is backed by the producer of his first album, Jara en el camino, great guitarist Chicuelo, and his label and management, Barcelona-based Taller de Músics.

Inxa Impro Quartet
Inxa Impro Quartet: Manilles (2:46)
CD: “Inxa Impro Quartet”
Author: Manilles

Born as the final-year project of a Catalonia High School of Music student, this instrumental quartet investigates Catalan dance styles. Based on formal structures in these musical styles, they open up new areas for improvisation. The result is fantastic. It could not be otherwise if we take into account that they started off with a classic trio of guitar, drums and double bass and added an oboe-like gralla. The song Manilles synthesises the whole process.