Review | Songlines

Bolinus Brandaris: Flamenco from the Bay of Cadiz

Rating: ★★★

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If you like your flamenco raw and unadulterated, without the studio frippery of added effects and multi-tracking that makes so many modern releases unappealing, this is for you. As for ‘Bolinus Brandaris’, a quick check with Wiki reveals that it’s an edible sea snail, a great delicacy in fishing villages around the Gulf of Cádiz, an area credited as Spain’s cuna del cante (cradle of song) and gypsy flamenco’s birthplace, as anyone who has read Gerald Howson’s magnificent book The Flamencos of Cádiz Bay will know. Here we get seven longish tracks featuring no more than voice and guitar with a little handclapping and instrument slapping for percussion. The dramatic voice of Trini de la Isla, heard on ‘Alegría’ and ‘Bulería’, conveys an almost hysterical emotion but even that is topped in its frenzy by the a capella on ‘Malagueña’, like a cross between a romantic bolero and a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer. The Spanish guitar comes into its own on the lovely ‘Seguiriya’ and on Jesus Guerrero’s dynamic showpiece ‘Rondeña’, but the voices are the real showstoppers. Gypsy soul at its most potent.

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