Asturiana Mining Company
The flash points of contact between varied cultures predictably generate memorable music, but this celebration of the Celtic roots of British miners embraced by the Asturias region of Spain along the Bay of Biscay exceeds all expectation. The compositional strategy of Patrimoniu is Celtic, interspersing vocal and instrumental tracks, but the variety of instrumental influences is as surprising and unpredictable as it is exhilarating. Crisp percussion and stuttering bass bolster Medieval bagpipes, lilting accordion, and jazzy piano, capped by the resonant and liquid vocals of Alberto Varillas.
"Suite of Mountain Songs," starts the show with a lively, swinging march. Varillas' vocal backed by a bright female chorus, satisfying with only vocals, percussion, and Nacho Felipe's staccato bass; the mid-track addition of Margot Lorences' accordion sends the track into hyperspace, foreshadowing the rest of the record. Shuffling drum-rolls introduce a bagpipe-driven celebration in "Saltón Vaqueru," transforming surreptitiously into a bluesy Cajun sound, as if the king had invited you to boogie. "A Miner's Lifeguard," an American union song, begins deliberately with Varillas' vocal to a picked guitar, then accelerates to a whistle-driven Celtic two-step on the break, a quickened pace which persists through the final verse. "Alborada," begins with drum-rolls behind bagpipe glissandos before debauching into a bouncy accordion romp, developing melody, and building a dramatic prelude that is taken up by pipes on the final verse. "Iron Bridge Reel," is nearly a self-contained album, a quick and varied instrumental emphasizing the coordinated and preternatural staccato quickness of accordion, bagpipes, and acoustic guitar, rapid stuttered notes perfectly fitted to extended melodic figures, carving out space for a ruminative piano and bass break, piano and accordion leading the ensemble seamlessly back to the main theme; a surprising and masterful combination of musical textures.
Over and above the inebriating joy of Asturiana Mining Company's music, their masterful integration of a riot of influences raises the bar for continuing musical fusion. - Jim Foley
CD available at cdRoots
Song: "Faro" (a Spanish muneira)
(c)1999 Asturiana Mining Company, used by permission
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