Tuesday, August 4, 2020
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cover
Artist: io
Title: flamenco abstractions
Format: CD
Label: Elegua Records (@)
Rated: *****
Electro-acoustic musician and ethnomusicologist David Font's syncretic sonic research was predestined to a certain extent: he was born in Puerto Rico, but grown in Miami, so that his zealous study of electronic music and Afro-Caribbean and African rhythms could descend from the circumstance he spent the first years of his life between rumba and ultra-bass from the "geomusical" viewpoint! By means of the Io project and his label Elegua, he already transformed and reworked some ethnic relics or peculiar styles which sounded like living a second life in a paralle digital world: for example, he adapted mbira, a traditional melodic instrument belonging to southern African music, within different sets of electronic sound on "Mbira Abstracions" and tailored amazing dub glad rags for a gigantic mechanical marimba on the occasion of a tribute to the late Conlon Nancarrow on "conloninpurple variation no.1". On this release, he took a slab at devising some palos (the Spanish name for flamenco styles) anew with the help of the talented and world-renowned guitarist Jose Luis Rodriguez. Their first "trespass" could be the fact they deeply focused on "minera", a kind of fandango whose origin, as you can easily surmise, comes from mines, particularly those ones nearby Alicante and La Union: this style was risking to sink into oblivion due to its strict technical canons (particularly for singing), which could conflict with lively flamenco dynamics, but they bravely contravene any rules without corrupting minera's signature style and emotional "heirloom" thanks to a plenty of impressive conjuring tricks. Guitar arpeggios could sound lighter than feathers or heavier than a boulder, they can turn into something caressing or haunting, rapturous or claustrophobic, cathartic or overwhelming within a short while. Moreover it seems they gain an authentic physical consistency, so that you could feel like they get reeled in a coil or jinking outside the sound-box in search of an escape route whereas they sometimes cut through air like sudden arrows or slightly drips from chords. The listening experience is equally intense on "Sobre Martinete", an interesting make-up of one of the most "industrial" flamenco style (its dull and mournful singing wasn't usually accompanied by guitars, but just by metallic sounds due to the fact this palo was mainly related to blacksmith's forge), and on the abstract variations of buleria, whose typical 12-beats fast rhythmical pattern has been rendered by "burning" electric pulses.

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