Saturday, May 18, 2013

In review--Acoustic Galicia (Aye, La, La)

Radio Cos
Radio Cos 

The American song collector Alan Lomax knew a good thing when he made field recordings of Galician music decades ago.  In some ways Galician folk music with its Celtic influences could be mistaken for Scottish or Irish music and in other ways, it sounds like Basque traditional music, some Portuguese traditions tossed in and the musicians sing in the exotic Spanish dialect, Gallego.  Radio Cos performs Galician dance music on Radio Cos punctuated by “aye, la, la” and on one of the tracks, I could have sworn I was listening to a Mexican ranchera (listeners also dodge animated bullets on that song).

Romp-stomping accordion bounces along delicious polyrhythms played on the traditional frame drums and tambourines, maracas, violin, gaitas (bagpipes), saxophone and vocals.  The vocals supply us with harmonies and occasionally passionate outbursts.  On Pandeiretada (traditional drum) the musicians treat us to a cappella call and response vocals accompanied by virtuoso drums--a real foot-tapper.  This song resembled Quebecois traditional music rhythmically speaking.  The following track, Ven Bailar Carmiña (a dance song) features hearty mixed vocals with everyone singing with gusto from the gut.  The accordion and saxophone resemble klezmer and circus music.  Galician music in general possesses many musical influences from Portugal, the Celtic world, other regions in Spain, and North Africa and because of all these influences I have a difficult time describing the songs.

On De Madrí a Queimadelos bagpipes join with polyphonic percussion and for whatever reason, I hear carnival samba.  Each song has layers of complexity and I can see why Alan Lomax took a fancy to the Galician folk music tradition.  This is music of a people, of tradition, of heritage, and of the land in which it inhabits.  I prefer the acoustic version as opposed to the electronic-folk variety.  In any case, any music listeners out there traveling off the beaten track, and wanting new sounds for the ears, try Galician music.

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