Going Underground: New music from Argentina- 02 August, 2010
In this, our first entry in the ‘Going Underground’ column we look at five Argentine artists that have not been getting as much exposure, either locally or globally, that we think they deserve.
Federico Falcón / Páramo
Some of the best music I heard on my last trip to Argentina was away from Buenos Aires, where perhaps the music was more in touch with its roots, with the history of folklore, and most definitely, where the music had a closer affinity with nature. This could not be more apparent than on Federico Falcón’s Páramo album, an album that is full of glorious, organic textures. There are echoes of singer-songwriters such as Damien Rice, as well as the pastoral haze and sinuous melodies of The Album Leaf.
The album was recorded in 2002 by Federico, who sang and played guitar and drums and Carli Aristide, who arranged and also played guitar. In the live setting they are generally joined by a cellist and percussionist, and now choose the moniker Páramo, indicating that it’s moved away from a Federico Falcón solo project. Páramo, the name of the album, and now the band, is the spanish word for a moor, an indication of how they have a close relationship with nature. This is music from Argentina’s beautiful countryside, where Federico lives in the small, former Welsh settlement of Luís Beltrán.
The album can be downloaded for free here thanks to Choele Online.
As with Federico Falcón, Lisandro Aristimuño is from the province of Rio Negro, an area at the Northern edge of Patagonia which rarely sees tourists in its central region. His songs fit within the singer/songwriter realm but make use of many rock and pop conventions in the arrangements, giving them a dramatic delivery in the style of Rufus Wainwright or Final Fantasy, especially in tracks such as “Es todo lo que tengo y es todo lo que hay” (available on his myspace), which also has the feel of Pete Townshend’s solo work.
He has recorded a number of albums, available through his Viento Azul Discos imprint. Las Crónicas del Viento, with beautiful packaging, is highly recommended. Lisandro has played in many of Argentina’s top theatres and venues, as well as playing in Montevideo, Madrid and Barcelona. He has performed with artists such as Kevin Johansen and Jorge Drexler.
Las Crónicas del Viento can be bought from http://www.cdbaby.com/AlbumDetails.aspx?AlbumID=LisandroAristimuno
Mahatma Dandys clearly highlight one aspect of Argentine culture. That is the love for party music, and one particular music that is becoming increasingly popular is Balkan music with its ‘gypsy’ or ‘nomadic’ spirit. There are increasingly more parties in Buenos Aires playing this type of music, such as Fiesta Bubamara (which is devoted to Balkan sounds), clearly inspired by bands such as Gogol Bordello and the possibilities of playing accordion-based music very fast!
Compromising 13 members, many of which are involved in other musical projects, Mahatma Dandys bring the spirit of ‘nomadic’ music wherever they go. Heavily featuring accordion (or bandoleon, the accordion-like instrument of Argentina) and with no lead singer (they sing as a unit) they produce infectious music which also has enoiugh variety to stop it from getting annoying. It is worth checking them out if you’re ever in Buenos Aires.
I would also recommend Sofia Viola, one of their members, who makes Argentine folk music with a very, dry sense of humour. You can find her songs on her myspace page.
Seba Ibarra continues a theme set out by Federico, making music influenced by his surroundings. In his case it’s the Paraná river that crosses his home town of Resistencia in Chaco. It resulted in him naming his first album Collage de Río (literally ‘River Collage’) and using the chamamé rhythm, a style indigenous to that area. It makes his music sound very different to the other artists mentioned here, with its own distinctive swagger when played at tempo, or lulling to the sound of the river when played at its most low-key. Seba is normally found with his band, consisting of accordion, bass, piano, keyboards and percussion. The sound of the accordion adds some Argentine-style to proceedings although this music is still seen as ‘exotic’ even by Buenos Aires residents.
He released his second album, Palimay, in 2009, in which he has refined the sound with sparser arrangements. This music is all about the rhythm and the simplicity of the lyrics which evoke visions of the river of which he continues to sing.
Seba’s albums can be bought at CDBaby
Valentin y Los Volcanes
This is perfect indie-pop music in the vein of The Vaselines or Jesus and Mary Chain. In fact, apart from the fact that these songs are in Spanish there is very little to tell them apart from their US, UK and Australian equivalents. This is clearly great guitar music with a Sonic Youth flavour in some of the playing.
The band, comprised of Jose Goyeneche, vocals; Nico Kosinski, guitar; Leti Villera, drums; Fela Gaspari, bass/keyboards, released Maquetas in 2008 (which can be downloaded here), a collection of lo-fi demos and sketches available from their website. This has recently been followed up with Play Al Viejo Walkman (2010), which they have been describing as their first ‘proper’ release, and which is most definitely worth a listen.