Toques de Caramulo
Retoques (Dorfeu 003, 2011)
Portuguese band Toques de Caramulo hails from Agueda, a mid-size city in northern Portugal located right by the Serra do Caramulo (Caramulo Mountains). The band draws its musical roots from the region’s mountain folk music traditions, transforming it with new arrangements and adding global music influences such as African music, jazz, flamenco, folk music from neighboring Galicia (Spain) in the north, klezmer melodies, Balkan sounds and some electronics. Retoques is Toques do Caramulo’s first studio album. The band’s previous recording was a live album titled “Toques do Caramulo… é ao vivo!” released in 2007.
On Retoques, Toques de Caramulo showcases the ancient mountain songs they learned long ago in local traditional music associations like “Orquestra Típica” and “Cancioneiro de Águeda” and from parents and grandparents. These pieces are respectful of tradition, but at the same time fresh and renovated. The album begins with a tribute to Américo Fernandes, who was the conductor of the “Orquestra Típica de Águeda” and ends with a remix of ‘Trigueirinha’, in which David Fernandes’ vocals are mixed with electronics. “We refresh traditional songs with the same creative spirit of those who once invented them,” says the band in the liner notes. “The same generosity, the same joy. Only the time is different: both in the calendar and in the beat. Up Agueda mountain hill, tradition is free and exists today.”
Toques de Caramulo stands out for its instrumental and vocal work. Vocals are used in various forms, ranging from traditional to harmonics and electronically processed. The line-up includes Luís Fernandes on vocals, ‘braguesa’ guitar, accordion, piano; Aníbal Almeida on fiddle; Lara Figueiredo on flute, vocals; Francisco Almeida on acoustic guitar; Carlos Peninha on electric guitar; Miguel Cardoso on double bass and Ricardo Coutinho on drums.
Retoques features quite a few guests, including the Children’s Choir EMtrad’ in “Olha para a Água”; superb Portuguese singer Sara Vidal, who was until recently the lead vocalist for Galician group Luar na Lubre. She plays Galician tambourine and contributes her vocals to “O brio das raparigas”, ‘Pedrinhas da Fonte” and “Trigueirinha”; João André Lourenço plays cajón in “O brio das raparigas”; Abílio Liberal plays tuba in “Laranjinha” and the association “Cancioneiro de Águeda” provided the samples heard in “Já vou chegando à Serra”, “Pedrinhas da Fonte” and “Trigueirinha Remix.”
Retoques is a remarkable album by one of the best bands in the new generation of contemporary Portuguese folk music.