The seven-piece Brazilian consort Anima have been compelled to remember and honor the tattered maps of ancient music while tracing new easements between its many fragmented roads where none were theorized to exist before. They do this by playing an eclectic but appropriate mixture of European early music and an orally-transmitted traditional Brazilian music, side by side. In so doing they have dreamed a landscape only possible today. This soundworld maintains astonishing integrity and cohesion by preserving the instrumentation that performs both. The splendidly selected 'organ' that does this includes Brazilian rabecas (fiddles), the 10-string Brazilian guitar, hand drums from Arabia, an 18th century German-copied harpsichord and Baroque & Renaissance recorders plus feminine Portuguese vocals. With plangent, sun-toned timbres and virtuoso faculty Anima effortlessly blend the rustic with pinnacle refinement. The repertoire has uncommon depth and range, from original homage by the group's fiddler Jose Eduardo ("Ze") Gramani to retooled pieces by 12th-16th century figures like Peire Cardenal, Guillaume de Machaut or Martin Codax, minus any authenticity fuss, to popular domain discoveries from living Brazilian folk.
Indeed, on Especiarias, the group occasionally combines European compositions and Brazilian folk melodies in the same track as a suite. The contributing performances on each are all notable but especially those of rhythmatist J.C. Dalgalarrondo and vocalist Isa Taube; the former for his mercurial technique and superb tone, Taube for her unique approach to the pitches. From "Spiral of Time" to "Spices," we see a natural progression from old classic recipes to new innovative ones, from the faded and burnished to the vividly-colored, from a familiar but dusty echo of the past to a unique contemporary voice. Out of each, the music of then and now, Anima have identified a common vitality and directness, which, among their many gifts, may be the most significant of all.
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