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Fía na Roca
Ceyba 2001

cd cover This third release from Spain's Fía na Roca ('Spin on the Distaff'), while based in Galician Celtic tradition, incorporates a wide variety of styles and instruments into its primarily instrumental repertoire. And, while I tend to be smitten with bagpipes, there is no way to single out any one of Fía na Roca's six instrumentalists as standouts in the context of such a tight, cooperative, and incessantly innovative ensemble: all excel. The sound is built in layers, based on Pablo Pérez' supportive bass, Giao Rodrigues' mood-setting guitars and mandolins, Carlos Castro's playful and varied percussion, and the assertive and jazzy piano of Xosé Vázquez. Melodic mood and drama progress from Xabier Bueno's whistles, through Vázquez' accordion and the violins of Roberto Santamarina, culminating with Bueno's electrifying, penetrating gaita. The expressive vocals of Sonia Lebedynski add spice to a number of the tracks.

"Baile de Pandeiras" starts with quick, chromatic piano and booming frame drum, lively melodic figure picked up by Lebedynski's lithe alto voice. Force builds as bass is added, culminating with a thrilling unison on the basic melody by violin and gaita, the latter untempered and exhilarating. In "Quer Que Lle Quer" an arch yet playful piano and plucked violin two-step leads into a spirited whistle melody, picked up by violin and gaita as keys transpose. The screeching contra notes of the gaita are especially effective. It finally fades in a recessional of castanets.

The calm swinging beat and deep reverb whistles and violin at the beginning of "Trulla e Carballesa" transforms midway into a wild violin-driven dance, enlivened by hand drums; then ratchets up another notch as a lilting accordion joins the brawl. In the Portuguese tune "Vai-Te Embora," a calm but complex beat underlies intertwined accordion and whistle figures, with a violin navigating the enjoyably treacherous rhythm. "Indo Eu" is slow and soulful, Lebedynski's vocal more sinuous and nasal than on "Baile de Pandeiras;" the whistles hint at Celtic sources, the accordion insinuates a tango.

The individual and ensemble mastery of Fía na Roca frees the band to experiment melodically, rhythmically, and dynamically, resulting in an ever-fresh musical experience. - Jim Foley

CD available at cdRoots

Audio is ©2001 Fia Na Roca and used by permission.
The band's web site

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