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Eterno Retorno
Galileo Music

Dazkarieh hail from Portugal, and Eterno Retorno is the band’s sixth studio release. As with many restless bands who start out within their own folk tradition, Dazkarieh sought to graduate from the acoustic to electric; on earlier albums, the group sounded like medieval Portuguese experimentalists. Eterno Retorno finds the quartet confidently poised between two worlds increasingly less disparate: the folk group and the avant/alternative rock band. The new CD features all original compositions, with music by Vasco Ribeiro Casais (bouzouki, nyckelharpa, braguesa, Portuguese bagpipes), and lyrics by Joana Negrão (who provides the band’s vocals). The songs provide the canvas for Rui Rodrigues’ guitar, and the terrific drumming of Miguel Casais.

Dazkarieh know how to push boundaries. Here, traditional instruments are phased, amplified, and processed: an important foundation on which the band builds its rock dynamics, so that the effect is organic and redolent of the Portuguese soundscape. The opening track, “(Ir)Real,” with the furious strumming of Portuguese braguesa, fuzz bass, and percussion, announces a new alternative sound, as Joana Negrão’s vocals build towards a multitracked climax. “Terra Escura” follows straight on, harp-like tones ringing out over thunder in a churning mix and a pounding chorus. The rock dynamics tease and surprise, as on the guitar crescendo that ends “Sei Que Não Sei.” However, one can still hear Dazkarieh’s feet muddy with tradition in the cadence of “Embalo Ao Nascer Do Sol.” Bagpipes take the lead on “Quatro Ciclos,” moving through the seasons, the heart of the rural meeting the longing of the urban sophisticate.

What is also notable about Dazkarieh is that their lyrics are pure poetry. Take “(Ir)Real,” which translates to “(Un)Real,” and the questioning nature of Negrão’s thoughts: “And the real can be nothing but a dream/and both are but one harm/And the trivial cannot seem cheerful/and be so special.” Or on “Terra Escura” (“Dark Land”): “Time roots in me/Pure soul, I’m ground of a single root/Brute force.” Perhaps Dazkarieh are making a bid for the mainstream with Eterno Retorno, but they are not dumbing down their bold project of experimentation. The acoustic/electric/eclectic power of Eterno Retorno is balanced by Dazkarieh’s intense intellectualism, the quiet at the heart of this storm. - Lee Blackstone

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