Danšas Ocultas / Travessa da Espera
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Danšas Ocultas
Travessa da Espera
L'empreinte Digitale

cd cover The members of this four piece chamber ensemble from Agueda, Portugal, are quiet revolutionaries, striving to expand the sonic and poetic possibilities of the accordion. Each is a master of the three row diatonic button accordion. Rather than relying on showboating, however, Danšas Ocultas are virtuosos of economy and silence, each of their parts carefully woven together to create musical landscapes that are both comfortably familiar and wholly unique. Nearly all of the pieces are original compositions, many displaying a wistful yearning that somehow manages to blend the luminescence of French impressionism (particularly Debussy) with the nocturnal longings of fado and the Gallic blues of French musette.

The arrangements are particularly noteworthy, displaying a keen modernist sensibility that keeps the project from being an exercise in nostalgia. For example, on several tracks, the musicians use the accordion's exhaust key, which allows air to escape from the instrument's bellows, to create dirge-like rhythms of white noise that would not be out of place on an industrial music album. (This technique also serves to remind the listener that the accordion is the instrument most akin to a lung). Other tracks, like Felipe Cal's "Vaguer," open with propulsive arpeggios reminiscent of mid-period Steve Reich. Labels like folk or world music are far too confining for Danšas Ocultas, a group that one hopes will continue to make important contributions to the current Portuguese musical renaissance. - Michael Duke

CD available from cdRoots

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