Review Summary: Sangre de Muerdago creates a perfect nocturnal companion piece for 2015's "O Camiño das Mans Valeiras"
There have been very few bands that I could bring up (if any) that have exposed me to an entirely new culture in such a way that Sangre de Muerdago has. Not only has this project been musically healing in my life, but every time I spin their records my imagination is free to roam the wild forlorn lands of Galicia, just for the ephemeral moment in which the needle glides ethereally over one of their records. Even when the soundtrack is finished, the sweet timbre of their music engulfs me in an eternal sonic appetite, that I could never quench. Since listening to Sangre de Muerdago for the very first time, I've done extensive studies of the Galician language and the ways of life that have united this often under looked group of people for centuries. Sangre de Muerdago's music has been a home far away from home, a constant hiraeth in metaxis. Their music has represented a pure and untouched shelter away from the consumerist values that have plagued many in recent times. Their music is a constant arcane spark that reminds me that there is still magic that illuminates this world. When I heard that Sangre de Muerdago would be releasing their 4th studio album "Noite", I found great solace and excitement in the fact that new warm melodies would soon enchant the vacant spots of my mind. When Pablo sent me the new record, I didn't know what to expect. "O Camiño das Mans Valeiras" is my favorite folk record of all time. How could anything possibly beat it" Somehow, even after having released a masterpiece Sangre de Muerdago found new depths to explore, this time in the nocturnal epic of "Noite"!
"Noite" is a jarring journey, to say the very least. Sangre de Muerdago has always been a project for me that feels like home. On this new LP, they show that this cozy and homelike quality could still coexist along with the advent of new experimentation. For instance, one of the things that I have always tuned into whilst listening to their music is the timbre. SdM has always made beautiful use of vernacular Galician instruments such as the hurdy gurdy as well as the melding of other cultures' such as the germanic nyckelharpa. Perhaps, the most important timbral component is the voice. Pablo's voice along with the very rounded tonality of the Galician language is an auditory experience like no other. I always find myself entranced in the spinning circuital quality of his voice, interwoven between expansive yet minimalistic guitar lines, the sweet pizzicato of the celtic harp, and the orbiting nature of the nyckelharpa, which in my opinion is the perfect instrument to pair with Galician text. It is this duality between the rustic minimalism and the immense variety and nuance in timbre that has always kept me so spellbound (Their music is "O Conxuro", get it") with their instrumentals. Though the musical content doesn't stray too far from the center of their tonal collections, it is these small refined details in timbre and musical variation that keep me so hooked! This is greatly represented by tracks such as "A Chamada da Néboa", "Xuramento" and "A Danza das Animas", where bewitching hooks journey into expansive mantras. It was exactly these kinds of tracks that made their previous record a masterpiece. On this record, these tracks serve perfectly as a kind of base to branch out from other releases. These were exactly the types of songs that I was hoping for, though as I delved deeper and darker into this masterwork, I discovered amazing new qualities and experimentation that stem from this LP, soley.
Like I said earlier, this record possesses the perfect dichotomy between expectations and experimentation. It is all that you could ever want from previous releases, though if you want to take it upon yourself to listen further, a whole host of new sonic characteristics start to show themselves. One of the great ventures of this new record is Pablo's exploration of composition without the guitar as a musical foundation. On tracks such as "Roubando o Vino do Fauno", "Marineiros", and "O Amor", Sdm bases the compositions on the hurdy gurdy. The hurdy gurdy is a really fascinating choice for this intended purpose, as there are so many different technical nuance sthat separate it from other foundational instruments. One of the main things you may notice is that the hurdy gurdy has multiple drone strings. The murky and psychedelic timbre of the instrument not only creates strong imagery and visuals for these compositions, but adds to the devotional aspect of the music (indian classical music is a great example of devotion music with a modal drone). Listening to these songs is like standing in the tallest spire of an ancient cathedral looking down at the ,happenings of the world. It is spacious yet dense and reverberant. The prominence of the hurdy gurdy on this record has been a massive plus for the album and group as a whole. The vast timbral library of SdM has always been something that has left me spellbound and now to see it expand is ground breaking! There is now so much more to explore. When I thought that "O Camiño das Mans Valeiras" was a masterpiece (and I still do), they were somehow able to beat that. This is one of the best records that I have ever lived to hear. Perhaps, one day I will journey out to Galicia to experience the wonders and magic that this record tells of first hand!