Posts Tagged ‘robert ‘robi’ svärd’

Introducing… Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd

Posted on May 20th, 2016 in Features, Recent posts by .


There’s a new guitarist making waves in flamenco – and he’s not Spanish, but Swedish. He tells Chris Moss about his conversion

Swedish-born Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd started playing Beatles songs with his dad at the age of four. Three years later he began taking classical guitar lessons, dabbled with the electric guitar and then, after moving to Sydney when he was 14 to live with an uncle – a violinist at the Sydney Symphony Orchestra – he studied at the city’s Conservatorium of Music. Now 40, he has just released a debut album, Pa’ki Pa’ka, of fiery, flamboyant flamenco, recorded at Granada’s famous FJR Estudios de Grabación.

He says his conversion to flamenco guitar took place in Sydney in 1998. “It was during my last year at the Con. I came home late one night to my residential college and heard somebody playing flamenco guitar amazingly well next door. It was Niño Josele, who had just won the largest flamenco guitar competition in Spain and was in Sydney as part of a ‘Gypsy’ segment at the Sydney Festival that year.”

Josele would go on to be an acclaimed leader of the emerging ‘new flamenco’ scene but back then he was a rising star. He and Svärd got on well and hung out for ten days.

“I immediately fell in love with the way the instrument is used when playing flamenco,” says Svärd. “By that stage I was getting quite tired of playing music not written for my instrument at the Conservatorium. It felt like for once I was playing something meant for this – and only for this – instrument. I had, of course, previously listened to a lot of flamenco, but never really had the opportunity to learn from anyone. I graduated and then moved to Seville, where I stayed for five years.”

It might seem something of a cultural leap from Sweden to Seville, but Svärd comes from what he calls a “very mixed family”: his mother was born in India to parents of Indian, Armenian, British and Portuguese extraction, and his father was Swedish. While he lived in Australia, his parents were living in China.

“I don’t really identify myself as being solely Swedish,” he says.

When living in Seville, he worked with singer El Pechuga, and also had occasional gigs with legendary flamenco-blues band Pata Negra, led by brothers Rafael and Raimundo Amador. On Pa’ki Pa’ka, he is joined by Granada-based singer Alfredo Tejada and percussionist Miguel Rodríguez ‘El Cheyenne.’ Svärd says there was never any sense of his being an outsider to the Andalucian scene. “Alfredo had long before made it very clear to me that he loves my music. He told Cheyenne about me, and after listening to some of my pieces he too said that he’d love to record with me.”

He now lives in Gothenburg, where his album launch at the local Konserthuset in April was a sell-out. “It was an amazing evening,” he says. “The next move is touring. At the moment we’re scheduling a week-long tour through Sweden and Spain, but we’ll also travel to Germany, France, possibly the UK and America as well as Australia in the near future.”

This article originally appeared in Songlines #118. Svärd’s new album Pa’ki Pa’ka is out now on Asphalt Tango Records.

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Top of the World June 2016: The best new releases

Posted on May 5th, 2016 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

Our selection of the top ten new releases reviewed in the June (#118) issue.

Imarhan (City Slang)


The young Touareg band Imarhan release an enthralling collection of songs, drawing influences from a variety of subjects and musical styles to create a dynamic and diverse debut album.

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Sociedade Recreativa
Sociedade Recreativa (Jarring Effects)

Sociedade Recreativa Cover

With help from producer Maga Bo, Brazilians Sociedade Recreativa create a memorable album mixing traditional instruments and sound effects.

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Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd
Pa’ki Pa’ka (Asphalt Tango Records)

Robert 'Robi' Svärd - Pa'ki Pa'ka Cover

Trained as a classical guitarist while growing up in Australia, Swedish guitarist Svärd showcases his unique and individual take on flamenco music on this beautiful debut.

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Afro Celt Sound System
The Source (ECC Records)

Afro Celt Sound System - The Source Cover

A reenergised Afro Celt Sound System return after more than a decade since their last album.

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Jarlath Henderson
Hearts Broken, Heads Turned (Bellows Records)

Jarlath Henderson - Hearts Broken, Heads Turned Cover

Piper-turned-singer Jarlath Henderson releases a confident debut as a solo artist. Displaying impressive arrangements and musicality, the album exudes a youthful yet matured sentiment.



Anian (Real World)

9Bach - Anian Cover

9Bach deliver a cohesive set of original and traditional Welsh folk songs on their third album, a soulful and brooding project that explores themes of human nature and the outside world.

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Sierra Hull
Weighted Mind (Rounder Records)

Sierra Hull - Weighted Mind Cover

This album captures the mind of a maturing Sierra Hull, looking for direction in a changing world, showing off her ability as a talented instrumentalist and a sensitive songwriter.

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Joe Driscol & Sekou Kouyaté
Monistic Theory (Cumbancha)

Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate - Monistic Theory Cover

Rapper Driscoll and kora player Kouyaté collaborate once again, seamlessly blending their own unique styles to create their own musical language.

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Gambari Band
Kokuma (Membran)

Gambari Band - Kokuma Cover

This nine-piece are a prime example of the great music currently coming out of Mali. Their debut, full of uplifting harmonies and explosive polyrhythms, is a captivating listen.

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Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble
Sing Me Home (Sony Music Masterworks)

Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble - Sing Me Home Cover

Cello icon Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble release their most diverse project yet, covering a range of musical worlds, from Mali to China.

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Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd – Pa’ki Pa’ka | Album Review | Top of the World

Posted on April 28th, 2016 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

Robert 'Robi' Svärd-©Stig Magnus Thorsen-Free

Words by Garth Cartwright

Robert 'Robi' Svärd - Pa'ki Pa'ka Cover

Swedish flamenco guitarist’s fluid debut

Raised in Sweden and Australia and trained as a classical guitarist, Robert Svärd fell into flamenco from a distance, but quickly found that his remarkable technique and supple fingers won him much admiration in Andalucía. Pa’ki Pa’ka is his debut album and it is a thing of beauty. Being an outsider allows Svärd to bring his very individual approach to flamenco guitar to these sessions – he has composed all the music here. He avoids showboating and forced fusions, yet there is something in his playing that hints at both his classical and Nordic background – I hear elements of Sibelius.

Svärd is joined on several numbers by percussionist Miguel ‘El Cheyenne’, and the vocalist Alfredo Tejada (who wrote all the lyrics). Nani Conde plays bass on a handful of tracks and Ahmad Al Khatib plays cello and oud (lute) on one number. Each accompanist is well selected, adding graciously to the music but never overshadowing Svärd. The opening number and title-track is a warm rumba, followed by ‘El Aire de Mi Corazón’, a lyrical bulería. On track after track on Pa’ki Pa’ka the beauty of Svärd’s flamenco ensemble keeps on unfolding.

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