Gaiteiros de Lisboa / Macareu
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Gaiteiros de Lisboa

cd cover Gaiteiros de Lisboa ("The Pipers from Lisbon") is Portugal's most innovative band in the area of traditional music. Ever since the release of their first album, Invasoes Barbaras, the Gaiteiros have never ceased to amaze us and their albums have always had something new. This one is no exception.

On Macereu, the sextet has expanded to accomodate a new member, percussionist Paulo Charneca, who has already collaborated with some of the musicians from the ensemble in other projects. He joins Carlos Guerreiro, Jose Manuel David, Jose Salgueiro, Paulo Marinho, Rui Vaz and Pedro Casaes to form the new cast of Gaiteiros de Lisboa.

If the addition of a new member really comes as a surprise (and a good one judging by the live performances), we cannot consider as such the choice of instruments for this new album. It's not that the Gaiteiros have repeated the same choices of other recordings, but it is a well known fact that the Gaiteiros normally go and create new instruments or adapt the sound of existing interments for each of their albums. So it hardly comes as a surprise to see them add to their large collection of sound-producing gadgets instruments like the clarinet and the Jew's harp, and other weird things as the borbulhofone (which roughly translates as "bubble-o-phone"),
"Cantiga de Quadras"
(MP3 excerpt)
and the tubaroes (a big percussion instrument made of huge plastic tubes). The fact is that the sound of "normal" musical instruments is just not enough for these brilliant musicians. When they need to add a new sound to any of their compositions, they just invent that sound with whatever material they can use, or they try to look for it in long-forgotten instruments. In this constant musical research it is fair to mention the excellent investigative work of Paulo Marinho, considered as The Gaiteiro amongst gaiteiros, who managed to find the sounds he looked for in the gaita transmontana (bagpipe from the northernmost regions of Portugal), in medieval bagpipes, in the smallpipe, and in the gaida (bulgarian bagpipe).

It's not fair to speak only of the Gaiteiros de Lisboa high musicianship or the extravagant sounds. Their skill in composing and arranging the tunes, and the choice of the texts that they put to the music are noteworthy. In Macareu the Gaiteiros travel from popular Portuguese limericks ("Velha Bufelha", "Quando o Judas teve Sarampo"), to poems of well-known Portuguese writers like Fernando Pessoa ("Cantiga de Quadras"), and of long time friends like Amelia Muge ("Plantei Amores", "Aqui ha Gato... Quem me Tramou?").

Macareu is the best and most consistent recording from the Gaiteiros so far. The musicians prove once again that it is possible to create quality music without giving in to the temptation of repeating a successful formula. The Gaiteiros de Lisboa often make fun of the music they create, but they also take that music very, very seriously. - Joao Maia

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