Words by Alex Robinson. Photography by Katia Paradis.
This superb CD marks an about-turn for Aurelio. With cameos from the likes of Youssou N’Dour and an international sound, his last release, Laru Beya, was aimed at a broad audience. But Lándini is a fundamentally Garifuna album, rooted in the paranda and punta musical traditions made famous by Andy Palacio. The album’s title translates as ‘Landing’, alluding to the Garifuna landing on the coast of Central America in the 18th century after the Garifuna speaking people were forcibly exiled from the Caribbean by the British. The landing is the Garifuna equivalent of the crossing of the Sinai – an event fundamental to their culture and identity – and Lándini is imbued with the melancholy, memory and celebration tied-up with the story.
The CD is rich in variety. With their upbeat punta rhythms, songs such as ‘Nando’ or ‘Lirun Weyu’ beg you to get on your feet. Others, like ‘Nitu’, are imbued with a mesmerising melancholy and sense of loss. Aurelio’s singing and guitar have never sounded better. His voice brims over with celebration on ‘Chichanbara’, accompanied by lilting, plucked and very African guitar, while it is thick with sadness on ‘Milaguru’, which tells of the death of many Garifuna in a ferry accident.
Despite Palacio’s legacy, Aurelio is the only artist representing Garifuna culture internationally today. Let’s hope that this wonderful CD inspires other young Garifuna to follow in his footsteps.