Clanc! Clinc! Dum! Bum!

Well, those three weeks went quickly.

Back from Spain and had a terrific time (thank you for asking) – lots of good food and drink, plenty of lying around in the ridiculous heat of Seville, some record buying in Madrid and a fair amount of linguistic stumbling around in front of patient strangers.

Before we went down to Andalucía, we spent a week in Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia in the wet and windy far north west of Spain. Fortunately, there was none of that – it was sun all the way (we were assured by friends that this was very unusual, even in August).

The day before we arrived, was national Galicia Day, and as a result there were musical celebrations in the Square outside the cathedral and concerts every night, which over the course of the week was a lot of fun. In fact, the first night we got there, we arrived in the square to see the Dandy Warhols setting up for the evening. We stayed on to watch some of their set, which was kind of fun but considering Galicia has such a reputation of having something of a distinctive culture all of its own, it was a little bit MTV (“Love your beautiful city, people. Fuckin’ viva spainya, man!”)

As it turned out, this lot had been in the square the night before…

Xosé Lois Romero & Aliboria

Yep, those are indeed shells, pans, oil cans and graters, supplementing the various drums. And the bizarre contraption that Romero is playing, which looks like a cross between a brush and viola
with bells on it, is apparently something called a charrasco. You think you’ve heard it all, eh?

alib 3The whole record’s like that – boisterous singing and soulful bellowing, accompanied by industrious, skittering rhythms; all manner of kitchen-sink clattering and a full dollop of lai-la-lai-ing. It’s all done with a cheerful arrogance and furious intensity that borders on the scary at times. The words, although clear, are lost on me; I’m not even sure whether theyre in Spanish or Galego. No matter, it’s the heart and spleen you’re listening to really…

Xosé Lois Romero is some sort of folk arranger who has a bit of a history that I shall be investigating soon, but most recently has put together this shouty ten-piece of jinglers and clatterers to apparently take traditional Galician percussion in jarring new directions, (I’m paraphrasing). And I’d say they’re pretty much doing that.alib 4

I bought the record when I heard it playing in a giftshop. I asked the lady in the shop if there was any gaita on the record, but she screwed her nose and said that, no, there wasn’t any of the Galician bagpipes on it, but that she didn’t care for them anyway. The gaita and that other Galician curio, the hurdy-gurdy or zanfona were plenty in evidence on the streets during the week but apparently had no place on this record. And although the prospect of a whole CD of percussion seemed a bit heavy at first, I’ve been pretty much hooked on it since we gotalib 5 back.
The liner notes while not that helpful to me (or I suspect many) as they’re not even in Spanish but Galego, do provide a few useful and rather endearing illustrations of each percussion instrument and the noises they make, which I thought you’d find interesting…

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