Tag Archives: Folk

Barrio Lindo Builds His Own Sound, Literally

Bario Lindo

Berlin-based, Colombian-Argentine electronic musician and luthier Agustín Rivaldo, aka Barrio Lindo, speaks in quiet, measured phrases, punctuated by the occasional shy laugh. Like his music, his sentences are carefully composed, revealing an underlying sense of wonder and joy. His latest album, Albura, takes its title from the term for the youngest wood on a tree—wood that is very valuable to luthiers like Rivaldo. Its songs reflect the three years Rivaldo spent traveling the world, including his 2015  Varda Artists Residency where he built instruments and created music on a houseboat in Sausalito, California that was once home to Jack Kerouac and Alan Watts.

Albura features collaborations with a stellar roster of South American producers, including Ela Minus, Lulacruza, and Clara Trucco from Weste. It also incorporates a vast array of instruments—charangos, guitars, and a marimba Rivaldo built from older wood he’d replaced on the houseboat.

We spoke with Rivaldo about the recently-released album, and how Varda’s houseboat, instrument-building, and recent travels came together to create his magical, shimmering soundscapes.

Continue reading

Dat Garcia: The Good Side of Having Bad Manners

Dat Garcia

Dat Garcia, who recently joined the ZZK Records crew of producers, speaks proudly of being “maleducada”—roughly translated as misbehaving. It’s a Spanish-language term that combines displaying bad manners and engaging in socially unacceptable behavior in one useful word.

With her debut album, Maleducada, Garcia joins a folk-futurist musical movement in South America whose most renowned producers (like Chancha via Circuito, Tremor, and El Remolón) have frequently composed pieces highlighting Andean folk music from remote parts of northern Argentina. Often related to harvest rituals, the ancestral music centers upon women’s chanting and hand-held drums.

However, Garcia takes that legacy further by building lyrical short stories with her own vocals, adding the gentlest forays into rap. All of this, she surrounds with her sounds from her collection including those of instruments that she plays herself. Garcia’s synths, Andean charangos, and flutes all happily coexist in electro-folk songs for the 21st century.

Garcia, the first producer and only the second female artist on the ZZK Records label, spoke with us via Skype from Buenos Aires. In our conversation, she moves from how her music relates to growing up in Argentina’s post-dictatorship democracy, to facing machismo and the resistance of an older generation who lived through the oppressive 1980s, to women’s empowerment, to personally bucking societal norms to heal her body of a rare form of cancer—all of which is incredibly maleducada vis-à-vis traditional Argentine norms.

Continue reading

Naomi Wachira’s “Song of Lament” is an Ode to Resilience

Naomi Wachira

Photo by Janell Kallender.

Some albums communicate a truth, urgency, and humanity so profound that it resonates long after it ends; singer-songwriter Naomi Wachira’s Song of Lament is one of those albums. It speaks to the political, economic, and cultural strife of the present age, while its beauty soothes, inspiring the listener to look beyond these turbulent times to remember how much we desperately need one another in order to grow.

Born to a middle-class Kenyan family, Wachira moved to the U.S. as a student, earning an M.A. in Theology at the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. “I know how dehumanizing it feels when you’re asked to prove that you are a human who deserves to be here,” she says, discussing the immigrant experience from her home in Seattle. In 2011, she discarded her day job to pursue music full-time, resulting in her self-titled debut.

Song of Lament, its follow-up, is an album influenced by world tragedies and personal struggles, brought to life by Wachira’s formidable ability to mine the darkest human experiences and return with lyrical jewels. It’s also an album on which she moves outside of her musical comfort zone. Producer Eric Lilavois recorded Lament in Seattle’s historic London Bridge Studio, which has hosted more than a few iconic local bands. Wachira describes the experience as one of her best thus far. “Working with Eric was so good for my soul,” she explains. Exploring influences from her childhood, everything from reggae to rock, was a breath of fresh air. “I liberated myself from the need to sound like anyone else. I write in more than one style. I loved Southern rock when I was in my 20s, and you can hear a little bit of that influence in ‘Up in Flames,’ and that classical feel with strings in both ‘Where is God’ and ‘Farewell.’  I also love the combination of Kikuyu [language] and strings on ‘Farewell’ because that’s something I’ve never heard before.”

Naomi Wachira

We spoke to Wachira about humanizing “the other,” being a proud “African girl,” and making music that transforms hearts and minds.

Continue reading

A Guide Through the Haunting World of “Folk Horror”

Comus-by-Mike-Rose-600

Comus by Mike Rose

Folk horror is a contemporary term coined to describe a cultural strand running through film, art, literature, and music. Appropriately though, its origins are as old as the hills. The term appears to have entered the lingua franca in Jonathan Rigby and Mark Gatiss’ 2010 BBC documentary Home Counties Horror, where it was used to describe three British horror films—1968’s Witchfinder General, 1970’s Blood On Satan’s Claw, and 1973’s The Wicker Man. Each of these films posited the English countryside as a place of ancient traditions and malign forces, dangerous to outsiders and the unwary. In his essay “From The Forests, Fields And Furrows,” Andy Paciorek notes folk horror’s proximity to psychogeography, the Situationist concept which draws lines between landscape and the human psyche. In folk horror, evil is stamped into the very soil.

The term “folk horror” might have sprung from cinema, but this is a world from which music and sound is inextricable. The Wicker Man—director Robin Hardy’s horror about the pagan community of Summerisle in the Scottish Highlands—was musically driven, with Paul Giovanni’s soundtrack locating a traditional magical undercurrent in English folk. The film’s most famous track, “Willow’s Song,” is a sort of pagan spell of seduction, as a sultry barmaid named Willow tempts the straight-laced Sergeant Howie through the wall of his room.

But it feels important to point out that the music of folk horror is not merely “dark folk music.” Nigel Kneale’s influential ’70s TV programs Quatermass and the Pit and The Stone Tape featured audio effects by Desmond Briscoe’s BBC Radiophonic Workshop. And many contemporary musicians working in the realms of folk horror—often based around concept-driven boutique imprints such as Reverb Worship or Ghost Box—pick up on this strand, employing analog electronics and concrete techniques that invest their music with an occult power or a sense of the uncanny.

Read on for some of the best folk horror releases that Bandcamp has to offer.

Continue reading

Andean Producer Lagartijeando’s Musical Witchcraft

0005206424_0

Mati Zundel, the Andean electro-folk alchemist who records as Lagartijeando, speaks of music as witchcraft, and connecting with other life forms through the use of psychoactive plants. This might seem “delirious,” as he suggested during our Skype call, but the zest and fire in his voice brings a prickling of gooseflesh; to Zundel, this is all very real. As he goes on, it begins to sound like the charming producer/multi-instrumentalist has reached some point of self-actualization. He recalls his backpacking journeys, and stints spent integrating himself with indigenous tribes in South American villages, and times when he befriended trendy producers in megalopolises, experiences that allowed him to develop an encyclopedic knowledge of folkloric and modern music.

Zundel has just returned from a local event called Fiesta de la Guitarra, where regional music is celebrated: “There’s gauchos, payadas, chacareras, samba, chamamé, vidala, copla…I love to see this!” he enthuses. That festival takes place in his native Dolores—a tiny hinterland of 20,000 habitants that’s just a 125-mile drive away from Buenos Aires. This marks his fourth years back home after a three-year globetrotting venture, and he’s enjoying the bucolic lifestyle of being back home. Dolores is also where he recorded his latest effort, the jubilant and meditative El Gran Poder.

On the album, it’s clear that his intrepid journeys provided him with a wealth of musical knowledge. The record fuses blissful electronic ambience with nostalgic pan flutes (or siku) and jaunty charangos, most of which he arranged and performed himself. Zundel talked with us about the mysticism behind ícaros—sacred chants that are sung during indigenous, spiritual ceremonies: “If you listen to my music, there are elements that search and call for that, they ask for protection,” he offers.

Continue reading