Lina_Raül Refree — Lina_Raül Refree (Jan. 17, 2020)
♦ Portugalská zpěvačka a španělský kytarista (a jednorázový spolupracovník Rosalía) se spojili, aby přeložili písničky fado icon Amálie Rodrigues do jemně experimentálních současných forem. V jednu noc jsou hlasy autentické: žádné zesílení, žádné ozdoby ani filtry, jen nervo a talent, duše a vášeň. Raül Refrene chápe všechny tyto věci dobře ...
♦ Začátkem tohoto roku jsou vydána dvě alba, na nichž se podílí producent Raül Refree, a jeho jméno se na obou stranách objevuje prominentně, což naznačuje, že spolupráce by měla být hlubší, než u typického producenta. Na první pohled jsou dva projekty velmi odlišné: jeden je zaznamenán s Linou, zpěvačkou oduševnělého portugalského stylu fado, druhý s bývalým kytaristou Sonic Youth Lee Ranaldem. Tyto věci však mají společné to, že v obou Refree odvádí kytary z míst, kde by se mohly zdát integrální: žánr fado v případě alba Lina, a hudebníka, který si ponechal své jméno kvůli hře na tento nástroj v případě Ranalda.
♦ V některých ohledech je album Lina dalším logickým krokem pro Refreea. Je známý tím, že produkoval první album nuevo flamenco star Rosalíe, aktualizoval starodávnou a uctivě respektovanou formu komplexního dědictví a přivedl ji k novému publiku, takže má pověření udělat to samé pro fado. Album se skládá z písní popularizovaných Amálií Rodrigues, známou jako královny Fado. Zatímco Lina přináší hudbou fado tradici svým zpěvem, Refreeovy příspěvky se s touto tradicí rozpadají a odmítají kytary ve prospěch klavírních a analogových syntetizátorů.
♦ To má za následek docela odlišné zabarvení než u tradičního fada: hlubší rezonance klavíru je ještě posílena uvážlivě rozmístěnými syntetizačními zvuky a efekt je pomalejší a snivější. „Quando eu éra Pequenina“ je obzvláště krásná se svými expanzivními klavírními akordy a neodbytnými syntetizačními zvuky, zatímco „Os meus olhos são dois círios“, zakořeněná v elektronice, je plošší, ale díky Lininým vokálům je sotva méně krásná.
Pokud Raül Refree doufá, že si pro sebe vytvoří jméno inovátora, pak mu tyto dva zcela odlišné nahrávky nepochybně pomohou. V Ranaldovi má spolupracovníka, který je hluboce zakořeněn v experimentování a tlačení hranic, zatímco Lina je méně zavedená muzikantka, která se zdá být neméně ochotná ve svém žánru pokročit dál. Poté, co Rosalía pracovala s Refree, pokračovala v nahrávání alba, které bylo stejné jako pop a flamenco: bude zajímavé sledovat, zda se kariéra Liny bude podobat této trajektorii. Location: Lisboa, Portugal
Album release: January 17, 2020
Record Label: GLITTERBEAT
01. Medo 2:40
02. Cuidei Que Tinha Morrido 4:50
03. A Mulher que já foi tua 3:50
04. Destino 3:08
05. Gaviota 3:59
06. Quando Eu Era Pequenina 3:22
07. Maldição 4:21
08. Foi Deus 3:39
09. Barco Negro 5:11
10. Os meus olhos são dois círios 4:03
11. Ave Maria Fadista 5:31
12. Voz Amália De Nós 1:14
by Ben Cardew
JANUARY 15 2020; Score: 7.7
♦ There’s something satisfyingly audacious about Lina_Raül Refree, the debut album from Portuguese singer Lina and one~time Rosalía collaborator Raül Refree. Lina’s ambitions for the project were “to do something different with fado,” brave enough given the genre’s cultural status in her homeland. To do so she recruited Refree, a Barcelona guitarist and fado newcomer, to cover songs associated with Amália Rodrigues, a singer so iconic that the Portuguese government declared three days of mourning when she died in October 1999.
♦ Lina was attracted to Refree for his work on Rosalía’s debut album, Los Angeles, where he helped the Catalan singer tease a modern edge out of the traditional flamenco style. Lina felt that they could do something similar with fado, a goal they achieve here, albeit in a very different fashion. Los Angeles largely employed flamenco’s traditional acoustic guitar and vocal palette, experimenting instead with production and form; Lina_Raül Refree keeps the words and melodies of the source material intact but ditches fado’s bright acoustic guitars in favour of piano and analogue synths. In what is an admirably stubborn move, the acoustic guitar only turns up on the album’s final track, “Voz Amália De Nós,” a song originally recorded by António Variações using synths.
♦ The production throughout is minimal to the point of austerity, creating an intimacy that feels like standing with the duo in a darkened room: “Ave Maria Fadista,” for example, uses just echoing piano chords and a hint of distortion. Yet there is still room for the two to give rein to their experimental instincts. “Destino” is haunted by the kind of synthesiser throb that suggests a nervous headache, while “Maldição” combines low organ drone with a faint synth arpeggio, lending the song a distinct air of disintegration. Drama comes in small musical quirks, from the touches of multi~tracked vocal on “Barco Negro” to the cute, two~fingered piano riff that leads “Cuidei que Tinha Morrido.”
♦ Listeners steeped in Amália’s canonical work may balk at this approach but, to an outsider, the duo’s methods feel respectful, the production modestly taking its place behind the songs’ timeless melodies and Lina’s gorgeous vocals. The singer possesses a voice of fiercely intimate power and texture, capable within one brief musical phrase of tempting a bird to the windowsill and blowing the opera doors clean off, as in the show~stopping melodrama of “Quando eu era Pequenina.” The ghostly double tracking of Lina’s voice on “Fado Menor,” meanwhile, is a thing of wonder, two thin layers of sibilant vocal echoing tantalisingly out of phase, like a pair of rippled reflections on an otherwise still lake.
♦ The songs’ melodies are equally potent. The Portuguese idea of saudade — a notion of longing that scholar Aubrey Bell defined, in his 1912 book In Portugal, as “a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist” — is closely linked to fado, and you can hear a kind of inexhaustible yearning in songs like “Gaivota” or “Quando eu era Pequenina,” piano chords crashing over your hopes like dirt on a coffin lid.
♦ Ever since Rosalía hit big with El Mal Querer, the Spanish music industry has been hoping for an artist to follow in her wake, reinventing traditional music to a global audience. Lina_Raül Refree suggests they may have been looking too close to home. Lina and Rosalía don’t necessarily sound alike; fado and flamenco are worlds apart, after all. But their musical perspectives are similar: respectful but questioning, drawn to emotion and the grand gesture rather than generic convention. Lina_Raül Refree is no Los Angeles clone. But it could be a long~lost, slightly weather~beaten cousin. Intimate, heartfelt, and solemnly inviting, it’s also a wonderful record in its own right. — Pitchfork
♦ Fado rewired and recast. Raül Refree — one of Europe’s most innovative producers (Rosalía, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo) — meets Lina, a Portuguese singer renowned for her haunting interpretations of Amalia's classic repertoire. Analog synths and hushed sonics.
♦ Making history by breaking the rules.
♦ Shedding the skin. A fresh beginning. That’s what singer Lina and producer/multi~instrumentalist Raül Refree have given Portuguese fado on Lina_Raül Refree. They’ve sloughed off the old trappings and exacting traditions of the country’s national music and given it into a perfect fit for the 21st century. Gone are the chiming guitars that were the music’s instrumental trademark and in their place comes piano and analogue synths. Together, they’ve reinvented the music that holds a nation’s soul, and done it while keeping the rich beauty of the melodies and the aching poetry of the words that are such a vital part of the tradition.
♦ “I wanted to do something different with fado,” Lina explains. She already had a deep background in the music; her family has sung it for two generations and she took it up when she was 15, studied opera and turned to the stage, where she portrayed fado’s great queen, Amália Rodrigues, before being invited to become a regular at Lisbon’s iconic Clube de Fado. She’d amassed an enviable pedigree. But it was time for more. And she knew exactly who to call.
♦ “I invited Raül to produce my album.”
♦ Raül Refree has been widely~praised for his solo work, like the album La Otra Mitad, as well as his ground~breaking productions; he’d collaborated with the flamenco incendiary Rosalía on her Los Angeles album, the disc that first made her name.
♦ “Lina thought that fado needed something similar to what I did with flamenco,” he recalls. “She invited me to hear her sing at the club. The very next day we went to the studio to see if we could develop a good musical relationship. She began to sing and I played.’
♦ Refree began with guitar, but quickly realised that “I felt more comfortable with the piano,” and with that change the mood for the record was set.
♦ “Everything happened very naturally,” Lina continues. “We wanted to make something that wasn’t the same, a record that broke the rules. In the end we made something we both really enjoyed, and that’s important.”
♦ Lina chose the songs, fado classics associated with Amália Rodrigues. It was material she knew and loved deeply.
♦ “I can’t sing something I can’t feel,” she says. “That’s my rule. We didn’t change any of the words or the melodies in the songs. There are no traditional instruments, but the emotion and feeling of each piece is absolute fado.”
♦ Not being a part of the tradition, Refree was unfamiliar with the originals. That helped him and allowed him to come to the music without the weight of history.
♦ “I didn’t want to know them,” he says. “I wanted to see how I reacted to the melodies. Because it was only me playing, sometimes I had to change what I came up with to work with the tune.”
♦ “Raül had a piano and some synths, a lot of instruments unlike anything you normally hear in fado,” Lina says. “As soon as we started working together, things happened. I felt free when I began to sing with him.”
♦ Beginning in May 2018, over the course of three sessions they let the sound take shape. In the world they created, the music embraces and captures the listener via the time~honored songs, the minimalist textures and Lina’s performances - so full of bittersweet hope. Yet there are also some delicious, unexpected moments that add to the majesty, like Lina, multi~tracked, rising out of the mix like a choir on “Barco Negro,” or the fragile, quivering of piano notes that take wing on “Gaivota.”
♦ Throughout, Refree’s arrangements are quietly subtle, the analogue synths and ambience very sparingly used to keep the voice very much at the heart of everything. It’s a perfect balance; the instruments are a frame for Lina as she explores every nuance of sorrow and fleeting joy, feeling every word she sings at the core of her being. Refree deftly gives her the space and the freedom to shine.
♦ “This is quite a naked record,” he agrees. ‘I tried to keep Lina’s energy. When I work with such a good voice, I want to reinforce it, not smother it. I wasn’t trying to think about history in the studio. I was focusing on the present moment. I tried to play what I liked. It worked.”
♦ “The record is different,” Lina notes. “That was all we wanted to do. We’ve updated fado. But we only tried to make music that moves people.”
♦ The album does carry on big surprise. It arrives in the final two minutes of the disc, though, when a simple acoustic guitar falls in behind Lina on the track “Voz Amália De Nós.” It’s the one song on the album that the queen never sang.
♦ “It was written and recorded by an 80s musician, António Variações,’ Refree said. ‘We both liked the song, but he’d done all the music on synths, so we decided to do the opposite.”
♦ After the mood of the previous tracks it arrives like a rush of water, a reminder of the lush, enveloping world of modern fado that Lina and Raül Refree have created on Lina_Raül Refree.
♦ It’s a disc that’s morphed the music, but it’s altered the people who made it, too.
♦ “I didn’t know much fado before this,” Refree notes. ‘Now I feel it’s part of my life. Now I listen to Amália and I understand it more.”
♦ “Over time, fado developed a lot of rules,” Lina observes. “We’ve broken many of those. But we haven’t forgotten the roots of the music.”
♦ What they’ve achieved is to free the music from the shackles of its own, long history. Lina_Raül Refree is fado for today, a sound that goes beyond geography. It sheds the old skin for the new yet still leaves it as Portugal’s soul, it’s great, beautiful cry of emotion. ♣