Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Azarbe

Azarbe

Azarbe is a folk music group that was formed in Murcia in 1999 with a classic format of the traditional bands of the Spanish Southeast.

The majority of its members come from the traditional music scene, and they had experience performing in well-known groups such as Cuadrilla Maquilera, directed by Manuel Luna.

The group has a wide repertoire rooted in the strength of traditional Murcian tunes (aguilandos, jotas, malagueñas, marches, etc.) and original songs that incorporate influences from the entire Mediterranean musical arch.

Musicians:

Oscar Esteban: cajon, darbuka, drums, percussion.

Pedro J. López: Spanish guitar, acoustic guitar.

Carmen María: voice, tambourine, percussion.

Emilio Mateos: Spanish lute, classical guitar, flamenco guitar.

Eugenio M. Concepción: violin.

Paco Morales Nicolás: fretless bass, 5-string Spanish guitar, tenor guitar, percussion.

Discography:

Acuarela de mi tierra Producciones (Trenti, 2001)
Cuerdeando (B. Producciones, 2003)
De la huerta al noroeste (Sonopress, 2007)
Vengo de la romería (Discmedi, 2010)
Murcia por Navidad (Surefolk, 2012)
15 años de folk (El Sr. Guindilla Records, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Atlántica

Atlántica

Atlántica was formed in 1988, months after Marcos Bárcena and Kate Gass met in France, at the Saint Chartier International Traditional Music Festival. After that, they worked in the field of traditional music, first as a duo and later as a quartet with percussionist Miguel Cobo and accordionist and keyboard player Ramón Bueno.

The band’s versatility was one of their principal assets. The sheer variety and quantity of the instruments Marcos Bárcena and Kate Gass played in their concerts was remarkable, because both musicians share a multi-instrumental approach and a knowledge of the music of Celtic roots from many countries.

Their first album, called simply Atlántica, appeared in 1996. While working together as a duo, Marcos Bárcena and Kate Gass also found time to be members of Luétiga, a group devoted to research, arrangement and interpretation of Cantabrian folk music (Cantabria is a region in the north of Spain located between Asturias and the Spanish Basque Country).

With Luétiga, Marcos Bárcena and Kate Gass recorded three albums: La Ultima Cajiga (1992), Nel el Vieju (1994) and Cernula (1996). They also took part in the Misa Popular Cántabra, a folk mass composed by Nobel Samano, which was performed by Luétiga with two choirs and a group of dancers.

In 1998 Marcos Bárcena and Kate Gass decided to leave Luétiga to follow their own musical direction and put all their energies into their own projects, mainly recording the second Atlántica album, Transitus and arranging a live repertoire as a quartet, combining Celtic pieces from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and North America with music from Cantabria, Galicia and Asturias

Atlántica also performed concerts with conferences about Cantabrian folk music for senior citizens and high school students, they animated ceilidhs with the aid of two callers, and participated, together with the Markab Theatre Company, in La Leyenda de los Besos, a musical play based on a short story by Manuel Llano.

The band had a show for kids called Atlántica con el Medio Ambiente, where they combined music with dances, games and stories about the environment. During the 1990s Atlántica was present in most folk festivals in Cantabria and the band played in many other places throughout Spain, as well as in Portugal and Wales.

Atlántica’s performances in more than sixty schools in Cantabria gave it extensive experience with kids.

Transitus includes dance tunes and songs from Cantabria and other Celtic regions, together with their own compositions in traditional style. By Transitus they meant to define a meeting point between the musical traditions of different places sharing common roots. It is a musical journey where they try to give their own vision of Celtic music, a global vision born out of their own experiences and contacts with this world. Transitus means a transit both through space, since they took the listener to the music of different countries, and through time, reflecting several periods, with a nod to the Iron Age men and a wish for the survival of traditional roots and the union of the nations.

The group disbanded in January of 2006. Ramón, Miguel and Jorge stayed together and formed another band named Garma.

Kate rested from music for 2 years for various reasons including the stress of working in a men’s world and being a single mother with 2 adolescents, and a sick mother. Marcos went on a spiritual adventure for a year and a half from which he returned in 2007 and later released an album of his own compositions, titled Marcos Barcena.

In May 2007 Kate took up her musical career again, this time as a solo artist working on a project called “Solistas Internacionales” with Paco Diez (Spain), Wafir (Sudan), Magali(Peru), Yoshie (Japan) and Laurent (France).

Discography:

Atlántica (Several Records, 1996)
Transitus (Resistencia, 1998)
La luz del iviernu Lugas (El Tripulante, 2000)
Lugas (El Tripulante, 2001)
En directo (RTVE Música, 2002)
Desde esta orilla (RTVE Música, 2004)

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Artist Profiles: Anxo Lorenzo

Anxo Lorenzo

Anxo Lorenzo was born in Moaña (Spain) in 1974. He commenced his musical life at the age of 5 and 3 years later he entered the Conservatorio Superior de Música in Vigo. His teachers were Patrick Mollard, Fred Morrison, Antón Corral and Moxenas among others.

From the age of 12 he has played in traditional music groups such as Xarabal, Duos Pontes, Semente Nova and Lembranzas Galegas. His experience covers such varied matters as music research, teaching, concerts and tours throughout Spain, Ireland, Scotland, England, France and the United States.

Anxo Lorenzo has managed to fuse the unadulterated natural sound of the gaita (Galician bagpipes) with a wide variety of alternative music styles such as: Flamenco Chillout (Chambao), SKA (Skape), (Poncho Ka), Rock (Los Feliz), Pop (Amistades Peligrosas) converting the gaita into an avant-garde instrument without giving-up his Celtic roots. As a musician, soloist and composer Anxo continues with his research into various fields of music.

Discography:

La Sombra Del Lobo, with Spiritu 986 (BMG España, 2000)
Tirán (2010)
Confuxon (Zouma Records, 2014)

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Artist Profiles: Arcángel

Arcángel

While in his early twenties, Arcángel became part of a select group of flamenco singers. He maintains this position because he wants to, because he can and because he knows how to do it.

Francisco José Arcángel Ramos, better known as Arcangel, was born in Huelva in 1977. His family was originally from the town of Alosno, known as the birthplace of fandango and the main source of the province’s rich folklore. At a mere 10 years of age, Arcángel demonstrated an unprecedented command of the local fandango when he took First Prize in a children’s competition organized by a flamenco association in Huelva called “La Orden” (“The Order”). This trophy was the prelude to a long series of honours that would eventually encourage Arcángel to dedicate himself professionally to his passion for singing flamenco.

Arcángel is capable of maintaining control of his singing technique, including compás, voice tuning and musical structure, while broadcasting an endless reverberation of perfectly rounded tones. That’s how you connect! And we’re not talking about his influence in the feminine arena, which we know nothing about, but to his amazing ability to present a cante (flamenco song) in one go, at a slow radiant pace while barely taking a breath.

Without a doubt, he has an Olympic temperament, comparable to the bullfighter’s ability to ‘moderate, adjust and control’ a charging bull. One of Arcángel’s outstanding characteristics is the intelligent way that he updates the traditional styles from his homeland. He revives them by adding infinite melodic overtones and by minimizing constraints.

In 2012, along with Fahmi Alqhai, he received the Giraldillo for Best Music at the Flamenco Biennial of Seville for the show Las idas y las vueltas. In 2015 he released his album “Tablao”. In February 2017 he was awarded the Medal of Andalusia.

[Translated by Rita Granda]

Discography:

Arcángel (Virgin, 2001)
La Calle Perdía ‎(Ediciones Senador, 2004)
De Oscura Llama ‎(Anemos, 2009)
Quijote De Los Sueños (Sony Music, 2011)
Las Idas Y Las Vueltas ˙ Músicas Mestizas ‎(Alqhai&Alqhai, 2012)
Tablao ‎(Universal Music, 2015)
Al Este Del Cante (Universal Music, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Amparo Sánchez

Amparo Sánchez

Amparo Mercedes Sánchez Pérez was born in Alcalá la Real (Jaén) on September 24, 1969. She grew up in Granada.

While in Granada, Amparo Sánchez joined her first band, the Correcaminos (Roadrunners) at 16.

In 1993 she moved to Madrid where she recorded her first album titled “Haces bien” (Fábrica Magnética). Later, she formed the group The Gang.

In 1995, accompanied by her guitar, she performed her own songs and some covers in Madrid’s famed Malasaña neighborhood. Together with La Vacazul, she formed a group called Ampáranos del blues, with which he toured parts of Spain and made her way to France.

Manu Chao and Radio Bemba were living in Malasaña at the time. Amparo married Manu Chao and they stayed married for several years.

Amparo served beer in a bar called Tio Vinagre, a place where musicians jammed on guitars, cajones and bongos. This led to the creation of Amparo’s celebrated mestizo music band Amparanoia.

Amparanoia’s 1997 debut album, El Poder de Machin, had deep Latin American influences.

In 2000, she discovered Mexico’s diverse art and its people: music, painting, Frida Kahlo, Chiapas and the revolutionary movement.

Amparanoia suffered a tragedy in 2004. On Saturday, October 9th, 2004, Amparanoia’s piano player, Caridad Borges, died in a car accident in Camaguey, Cuba. She was driving with her husband, Jose Alberto Varona, Amparanoia’s trumpet player, and her daughter Carirosa. Both Jose and Carirosa were critically injured and fighting for their lives.

In 2005, accompanied by her three musicians, she stayed for one month in the Zapatista community La Realidad. There, she recorded the song Somos viento.

In 2008, she disbanded Amparanoia and decided to continue her career as a soloist.

In 2010, Amparo released her first solo album, Tucson-Habana with an acoustic repertoire composed entirely by herself, with the exception of the song “La Parrandita de las Santas”, by the Cuban composer and singer Mane Ferret. It was recorded in two stages, one in 2007 in Tucson, Arizona and the other in 2009 in Havana, Cuba. The album includes a collaboration with Omara Portuondo.

In 2012 she released Alma de Cantaora, 13 songs that featured various high profile guests: Caléxico; Baby; De Pedro; Mane Ferret; Arianna Puello; Muerdo; Howe Gelb; and Charlat’58 and Bongo Botrako.

In 2014 she released the album Espíritu del sol. That same year Amparo published the book La niña y el lobo.

Amparo ractivated Amparanoia in 2017. The band released ‘
El Coro De Mi Gente ’, a reinterpretation of ‘El Poder de Machín’, the record she released exactly 20 years earlier, and was a landmark in the Spanish music scene of the 1990s.

Discography:

With Amparanoia:

El Poder de Machín (Facedown, 1997)
Feria Furiosa (Facedown, 1999)
Somos Viento (EMI Hispavox, 2002)
Enchilao (EMI Hispavox, 2003)
La Vida Te Da (Via Lactea, 2005)
Seguire Caminando 1996-2006 (Via Lactea, 2008)
El Coro De Mi Gente (Warner Music/Calaverita Records, 2017)

Solo albums:

Tucson-Habana (Via Laceta, 2010)
Alma de Cantaora (Kasba Music, 2012)
Espiritu del Sol (World Village, 2014)

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Artist Profiles: Amalgama

Karnataka College of Percussion

Amalgama was the amazing result of the collaboration between Spanish Flamenco and Jazz musicians and the renowned Karnataka College of Percussion, from India.

The idea behind the project was to blend two cultures with a common background: Gypsy Flamenco (it is believed that Gypsies originally came from India) and Indian music. Flamenco vocals (which have some similarities with Indian vocals), rhythms (especially the palmas or hand clappings) and guitars were mixed with Indian vocals and percussion.

The musicians involved were: T.A.S. Mani (mridangam), Ramamani (Indian vocals, konakol), Sheshikumar (kanjira), Tunsi Beyer (ghatam, tabil), Xavi Turull (tabla, ghatam, berimbau), Juan Parrilla (flute), Jesús Losada (Flamenco guitar), Antonio Ramos (bass), Pau Martinez (congas) and Charo Manzano (Flamenco vocals).

The group only recorded one album titled Encuentro.

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Artist Profiles: Aljibe


Aljibe

Aljibe plays contemporary folk based on the traditional music of Castile, La Mancha and other parts of Spain.

Aljibe has been working since 1985, investigating and reworking traditional songs to make them attractive to all types of audiences.

This veteran group has the classical instrumentation of the Castilian groups, supported by contemporary instruments and influences from other cultures as well. The style has evolved over the years, pure compilation to developing new material based on traditional forms such as seguidillas, fandangos, torrás.

Musicians:

Juan Rodríguez Tembleco: Solo voice, accordion, bagpipes, charro bagpipes, saxophone, bandurria and lute. Founder of Azada y Aljibe. He has collaborated with Paco Díez and La Bazanca. He also participated in other groups such as the Captain Street Big Band and the Municipal Band Joaquín Rodrigo de Aranjuez.

Luis Ramón Martín: Bandurria, lute and Spanish guitar. He began with the group La Picota de Yepes and later joined Aljibe. He is one of the best plectrum musicians of Castilian music.

José Manuel Rodríguez Tembleco: Voice, bandurria, lute, electric bass and percussion. A member of Aljibe since the very beginning, he stands out for his enormous rhythmic capacity in Spanish and Arabic percussion. Sound technician of the group.

Domingo Martínez: Spanish and acoustic guitar, manchego guitar. Started in music in the Orquesta de Plectro y Púa Vicente Aleixandre. He has performed with several jazz, classical, and country acts always as a string player, playing lute and banjo.

Luis Miguel Novas: Flutes, clarinet, dulzaina and bagpipes. He completed the recorder flute degree with Professor Álvaro Marías at the Royal Conservatory of Music of Madrid, obtaining an graduated with honorable mention. He has worked and collaborated in bands such as the Real Capilla de Madrid and La Bazanca.

Manuel Marcos: Voice, piano, keyboards, guitar and percussion. He studied piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music of Madrid with José Luis Fajardo. He has been a member of the Dioptrías Blues Band, and the group Algarabía. He has collaborated in recordings such as Mañana de Navidad, with the group La Berza.

Teodomiro Rodríguez: Electric bass, flutes and percussion. Founder of the Nueva Castilla group and later, of Aljibe, he left the group twice to work in Warsaw and Prague at the Cervantes Institute.

Teresa García: Voice, violin and percussion. Classically-trained, she collaborated with several Galician bands before joining Aljibe.

Discography:

Temas Infantiles Tradicionales de la Comunidad de Madrid (Saga, 1987)
Surco arriba, surco abajo (Saga, 1987)
Felices Nusotros (Tecnosaga, 1989)
Gañanes, gancheros y otras faenas (Several Records, 1991)
La Marca del Oricuerno (Several Records, 1997)
El Motín de Aranjuez (Several Records, 1998)
Penas y Alegrías (Sonifolk, 2002)
Al lado del Mediodía (Galileo, 2002)
Enea (self-released, 2011)
Agua. Músicas Tradicionales de la cuenca del Tajo (Doce Calles, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Aliara

Aliara at Folk Segovia

Aliara was formed in November 1978 with the aim of recovering and promoting the traditional folk music of the Valle de los Pedroches, a region north of the province of Córdoba, in the Sierra Morena. Due to its historical-geographical characteristic, the Pedroches has served as a crossroads and an obligatory passage between Castile, Andalusia and Extremadura, thus forming a peculiar autochthonous folklore with numerous influences.

Through constant research work since its inception in 1978, the experiences and the broad musical background of its members, a deep knowledge of Andalusian traditional music emerged. Aliara has a repertoire of more than 90 native songs, which can be configured different types of concerts, always trying to keep a balance between the musical development of traditional songs and its rigor and historical purity.

The name Aliara comes from a container made with a hollow bovine horn where you can transport the vinegar and oil to dress the meals.

Doroteo Amor Antoli – Voice, flutes and whistles; Javier Jaramillo Perez – Voice and guitar; Alberto – Percussion, voice and guitar; Maria Jose Luna Sanchez – Voice and Percussion; Susana Luna Sanchez – Voice and Percussion; Fernando Sanchez Fernandez – Laud, rabel and percussion; Bartolome Sanchez Fernandez – Bandurria, Guitar and percussion; and Rafael Sanchez Fernandez – Bass.

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Artist Profiles: Alboka

Alboka circa 2001 with Marta Sebestyén

The year 1994 saw the founding of the group Alboka by three well-known Spanish Basque musicians and one Irishman. Aside from their personal musical projects, these four different personalities, Txomin Artola (guitar), Josean Martin Zarko (mandolin, bouzouki), Joxan Goikoetxea (accordion, synths) and Alan Griffin (alboka, bagpipes, flute), decided to set up a group that would compile and perform acoustic instrumental traditional music.

The combination of guitars, mandolins, bouzoukis, ttunttun, accordion, alboka, bagpipes, flutes and crumhorns, and a carefully chosen selection of dances and airs taken from the living tradition and from the great Basque music collectors gave rise to a first disc that was something new in a Basque folk music scene, more accustomed to vocal recordings.

As a result of having gained recognition abroad, Alboka played at many important international folk festivals including Dranouter (Belgium), Folkest (Italy), Euromusica (Hungary), Forde (Norway), Panceltic Music Festival (Italy), Folk Segovia (Spain), Músicas Vivas (Spain), Torrelavega Folk Festival (Spain), etc.

In 1997 they were joined by fiddler Juan Arriola. The group began to include in their repertoire both vocal material and newly composed tunes in the traditional style.

These developments are reflected in their second CD, “Bi Beso Lur”, which also includes important guest musicians and confirms their distinct acoustic style in the treatment of instrumental Basque music.

On Lorius, Alboka featured one of the top folk music singers from Hungary, Marta Sebestyén.

Discography:

Alboka (1994)
Bi Beso Lur (Aztarna , 1998
Lorius (Resistencia, 2001)
Lau Anaiak (Elkar, 2004)

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Artist Profiles: Madala Kunene

Madala Kunene

Madala Kunene was born in 1951 in Cato Manor, moving to the township of Kwa-Mashu, near Durban after his family were evicted by the Apartheid government. Despite being born into a family of eminent and fervent academics he refused to spend so much as a day at school- even if it meant taking regular beatings because of it. This signaled Madala’s single-minded and uniquely unconventional nature.

He started busking on Durban’s beachfront at the age of 7, making his first guitar out of a cooking oil tin and fish gut for the strings! He soon became a popular performer in the townships. “I started music when I was a boy at Umkhubane (Cato Manor) at Jippercoat Station. We were called ‘Amanikabheni,’ a name given to us because we would perform in open spaces and then be given pennies by the thrilled crowds“.

As a player for the African Wanderers FC, the teenage Madala was torn between his love of football and music, playing guitar at home after matches. In 1963, he bought his first real guitar and began to imitate Western music such as the Beatles. But Madala soon tired of imitating others and feeling dissatisfied and restless, decided to start playing his own music giving voice to the creativity that was welling up within him.

It was friends such as the great Sandile Shange, who encouraged him to take his guitar playing much more seriously. He followed their wise advice and in the early seventies started to perform as a professional artist in the Durban townships, playing in variety of styles.In very little time he had become the hottest guitar player and was discovered by Sipho Gumede.

Madala went to work in Johannesburg, where he considered himself privileged to share the stage with such luminaries as Doc Mthalane and his band, Songamasu, Shor Philips, Mankunku Hgozi and Busi Mhlongo. However, in the mid – 1970’s, violence erupted in rural areas. This led to Madala returning home to protect his family after their house was burned down. Deprived of the chance to tour internationally, Madala continued to develop his own musical style while playing low-key gigs in the townships during the mid-eighties.

Encouraged by his friend Duze Mahlobo, he revived the ‘Madalaine’ style of guitar playing, combining blues &soul with African folk, and developing the trance – like quality of his Zulu folk singing. A guitarist on great albums by the likes of Sipho Gumede and Mandla Masuka, Madala’s career has been, in his own words, “both exciting and rough”, since he went solo in 1988. One such example Madala remembers: “I was rehearsing at a friend’s house and the police came in and said we were making noise. They took all our instruments and smashed them. It took me a long time to find the money to get another guitar.

Despite the hardship he persevered and in 1990 teamed up with the dance troupe, Woza Afrika, where he wrote, sang and played guitar. In 1993 B+W (later M.E.L.T. 2000) gave him his recording break: he was on Freedom Countdown produced by Sipho Gumede.

In 1994 Madala took part in the Outernational Meltdown jams with Airto Moreira that culminated in his part of the Healer’s Brew (BW077). His traditionally deep-rooted guitar style is captured on the first in the bootleg net series, -King of the Zulu, Live Vol. 1. (BNETCD001).

Of contemporary music Madala says, “I like the fact that I am doing African music, even though here at home promoters are not that interested in traditional music. They are only into commercial music.”

Despite the pressures to copy Western music Madala refused to give in to commercial whim, “I was tired of trying to sound like other people. I wanted to be myself, to play the kind of music that came from within me.” So he draws his influences from Zulu folklore and culture. With wit and clarity he relates the traditional Zulu folk tales we would otherwise forget.

A proud Zulu and advocate of traditional Zulu music and folklore-Madala’s first solo album for M.E.L.T. 2000 was Kon’ko Man (BW058) meaning ‘the Strong Man’. Made in 1995 and produced by Pops Mohammed and Airto Moreira, this album features many of his old friends, including Londoner Zena Edwards, Sipho Gumede, Mabi Thobejane, Busi Mhlongo, Mandla Mgabhi and Mandla Masuk, Jose Neto and Flora Purim, to mention but a few.

Following this debut solo album, he joined forces with Swiss guitarist Max Lasser for the album ‘Madamax’. There was an incredible creative affinity between the two and through the development of this project they made a profound musical connection between Africa and Europe. As Madala says, “I first met Max at a studio in Johannesburg in 1995, because of a session that Robert had organized. We sat together the whole night. I just took the guitar and played and everybody sang along.” It was not yet obvious something big was going to come of it, “I was not expecting that this music would be released on CD. We were just playing together. We finished the session, and since that day we have been great friends, as if we’d known each other 20 years. I liked his heart – he was a fine man.”

After their initial sessions in South Africa, Max invited Madala to Switzerland to continue arranging the music, and to write some more songs. This collaboration was such a buzz that Madala and Max decided to take their unique sound on tour, a resounding success that also highlighted the unique vocal talents of Lungiswa Plaatjies. This tour has been a resounding success throughout Europe both in 1999 and 2000. Performing to audiences around the world, and sharing the stage with the likes of the inimitable Busi Mhlongo, Madala’s repertoire includes playing for Nelson Mandela at the show held in honour of his release. When they met again at another benefit show in Durban Mandela smiled and said, “It’s you again. I wish you could play for me everywhere I go”.

Madala Kunene performs to audiences around the world and often shares the stage with great names such as the inimitable -Busi Mhlongo. This repertoire includes playing for Nelson Mandela at the show held in honor of his release.

Madala has developed a completely original style of playing guitar based on ancient divination music and most of his inspiration comes to him in dreams. He explains the influence his poetic dreams have on his song writing relating the inspiration for ‘Abangoma’ on ‘K’onko Man’. “You know when you get a fright in your sleep and you body shakes and then you suddenly wake up? That’s what happened with Abangoma. I must have been inspired by my ancestors because I just got up, picked up my guitar and wrote the entire song”. Madala is profoundly connected to his ancestry, “It was my ancestors that didn’t want me to go to school. They gave me a talent so that instead of school, I played my music”.

It is somewhat ironic that Madala is now a teacher himself, sharing his musical skills with children and juvenile offenders in KwaZulu-Natal.Known as the “King of Zulu guitar”, Kunene is renowned for the transcendental and ethereal quality of his songs. Whilst performing he goes into a deep trance, and as he himself says, “When I am playing my brain is not there. Each time I go to a place I’ve never been before.”

Discography:

Healer’s Brew (B&W Music, 1995)
King Of The Zulu Guitar Live Vol 1 (Bootleg.Net, 1996)
Kon’Ko Man (B&W Music, 1996)
Madamax (Impact Music, 1998)
Uxolo ‎(M.E.L.T. 2000, 2005)
1959 (2017)

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