Albaluna Nau Dos Corvos
Review by Lee Blackstone
"Ondas De Um Mar Severo" (excerpt)
Europe has a whole host of bands oriented around pipe and wind instruments. A whole subset of this revivalist folk genre has morphed into the predictable mash-up of loud pipe mash-ups with heavy metal, as with Germany's In Extremo. Some pipe collectives play it more 'straight,' as with Germany's Corvus Corax, or Italy's Barbarian Pipe Band (both of whom have delved into techno remixes). Portugal has also seen modern band experimenting with pipes and ancient instruments – the progressive folk bands Dazkarieh, and Mandrágora, come to mind. Albaluna are a rising band that one might be tempted to fit in with the neo-pagan ritualist music of Europe, but like the other Portuguese bands, more is going on in the band's music than one might expect.
Nau Dos Corvos is full of head-on rollicking tunes; there are bagpipes, but also influences that range beyond the Celtic to Ottoman and Jewish music as well. The band is not another medieval or Renaissance-fair crowd pleaser, nor does the band dress in the manner of ye olden tymes. Albaluna's music, however, captures the spirit of both the medieval and Renaissance historical eras. The instrumentation is well-balanced, with extremely thoughtful arrangements. A track such as “Amura” is dynamic, with both crashing percussion, pipes, and bouzouki; but, there is also an electric bass bounce that mark Albaluna as a crucible of ancient Mediterranean funk.
The long track “Ondas De Um Mar Severo (Oriente)” shows that Albaluna are willing to experiment. Impassioned vocals are set against strummed instruments, a stately beat, and pipe melodies that match the swooning voices. Towards the end of the album comes a triptych entitled “Sefarad,” comprised of “La Galana Y El Mar,” “Hija Mia,” and “Los Caminos De Sirkeçi.” Intriguingly, this set starts off with Jewish themes, but then moves across the Balkans, and into Turkey.
Nau Dos Corvos is a lovely and unexpected musical journey from a band committed to highlighting an unusual repertoire. Albaluna's rich sound refuses to be pigeonholed. - Lee Blackstone