Review | Songlines

Mare

Rating: ★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details

Artist/band:

Quadro Nuevo

Label:

GLM Music

January/2021

Why do Germans go to the Mediterranean for their holidays? I know, a controversial question, and liable to prompt talk of dawn towel races, sun-loungers, pink paunches and posing. But Bavaria’s Quadro Nuevo, which has been setting the spirit of the Med to music for 20-odd years, has a more teasing answer. As the 15 tracks of Mare make as clear as the still waters of Ikaria, there is a lightness of spirit and a spirited lightness in Europe’s southern climes that cold-fatigued Anglo­Saxons find satisfying. It’s not all about sultriness, but something more delicate. Applying a jazzy freeform approach to reworkings of French waltzes, Aegean folk song and Neapolitan standards, they add the merest hint of swing and a polished professionalism that, while German in its execution, is respectful rather than reverent. ‘Ragazzo Samba’ and ‘Café Groppi’, both led by accordion, have the lilting quality of a Rovira tango. ‘Plage à Trois’ is über-mellow meandering jazz. ‘Stay Away and Play’ is a serene piece of vibey ambient music. ‘Yorke’s Guitar’ has a minimalist pulse. ‘Bora Furiosa’, which alludes to the famous gusts of Trieste and the karst, flits around with apt whimsicality

It’s hard to pin the music down, too, as it splices genres and allows different instruments (woodwind, squeezebox, keyboards) to come discreetly to the fore. Imagine being driven by Monsieur Hulot way, way south of the chill Autobahn and, just as he winds the window down, Piazzolla comes on the (rather old, crackly) radio. That’s what this sounds like. Not exactly daring, but very delightful.

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