Saturday, 21 May 2016

Pa’ki pa’ka

by Robert “Robi” Svärd
Dejame sentir la dulce maravilla que tienen tus labios
Dejame decirte morena mia cuanto te amo
Que quiero entregarte lo mas profundo de un sentimiento
Y que tu cuerpo vibre, que vibre con un “te quiero”

Every time I think I heard it all, Songlines proves me wrong. What could one possibly add to what Paco de Lucía has done to flamenco guitar? “Robi” Svärd shows that yes, one can add something else. And that “something else” is not being his “Nordic touch” or (enter here any other cliché pointing to Robi’s origin). At no point his could-have-been-frightening virtuosity stands in the way of his singable, danceable and, well, simply jolly good music. Not exactly what I call “easy listening” but for me the only difficulty was to choose the favourite song! Anyway, here are my top three (for now): Dulce maravilla, with simple but efficient harmonics-driven intro/bridge; bulerías El aire de mi corazón; and a very tasty title track. Enjoy!

Pa’ki pa’ka

  1. Pa’ki pa’ka (rumba)
  2. El aire de mi corazón (bulerías)
  3. Dulce maravilla (alegrías)
  4. La chispa (bulerías)
  5. Caminando (tangos)
  6. Barokería
  7. Lágrimas secas (soleá por bulerías)
  8. Habana a Suécia (guajiras)
  9. Paseo de los tristes (granaina)
    Robert “Robi” Svärd — guitars
    Miguel “El Cheyenne” — percussion (1—8)
    Nani Conde — bass (1, 2, 5)
    Alfredo Tejada — vocals (2, 3, 5, 7)
    Ahmad Al Khatib — oud/cello (2, 3)
    Ann Sehlstedt “La Pantera” — dance (8)

    All tracks composed by Robert Svärd except track 7 (public domain, arranged by Robert Svärd)
    All lyrics by Alfredo Tejada
    Produced by Robert Svärd
    Recorded, mixed and mastered at FJR Estudios de grabación, Granada, May — July 2015 by Robert Svärd and Fernando Romero
    Cover by Andreas Borg

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

It was thanks to this book which I read in 1970s as 451 градус по Фаренгейту that I remembered, for the first time, any data in this absurd scale — only to learn, already after Bradbury’s death, that paper does not auto-ignite at this particular temperature. Gary Dexter goes as far as suggesting to replace the famous epigraph

‘Fahrenheit 451: The temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns’
‘Fahrenheit 843: The approximate temperature at which rayon fiber untreated with N-methyl-dimethyl-phosphonopropionamide catches fire, and burns’.
Try telling that to Bradbury fans.

Doesn’t matter. When read in Russian, the book was as scary as it was fascinating. Reading it in English, I found it much less so. Could it be because we live in times when people do not read books anymore anyway? Not just the new generation, but especially the new generation, if my students are anything to go by — my, sometimes I sound awfully old. Bradbury’s future has arrived, and it doesn’t look good, but we are getting used to it.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

La Sandunga

by Lila Downs

I discovered Lila Downs in 2004, thanks to Songlines. One of the first issues that I read featured Beginner’s Guide to Lila Downs. Back then, her discography was rather short. Three (of five available) albums were listed as “best”, the new one (Una Sangre) was to be reviewed in the following issue, and La Sandunga, by some reason, was referred to as “best avoided”. And so this snippet of information stayed with me. Now, after avoiding it all these years, I finally bought it, more for completeness’ sake rather than anything else. But what a discovery!

Recorded almost 20 years ago, La Sandunga, far from being just a taste of things to come, is a beautiful piece of work in its own right. Lila’s music is always a fusion, but this one is probably the least “fused” of all her albums. No cumbia, blues or klezmer here. My favourite songs are the two boleros by Álvaro Carrillo, Un poco más and Sabor a mí. The versions of La Llorona and Yunu Yucu Ninu are rather different from you can hear on her later albums. The bonus tracks on this CD are also worth listening to; even Bésame mucho — which you’d think must be, of all Mexican songs, best avoided indeed — sounds fresh. Please give it a listen. You won’t be disappointed.