SANGRE CAVALLUM - Barbara Carmina - CD - 18 tracks - Storm Records - 2004

Released as a beautiful two-panel digipack with bronze metal stampings on Michael Moynihan's Storm label, 'Barbara Carmina' ('Barbarian Hymns') is the debut album by Sangre Cavallum, a gathering of traditional musicians from Northern Portugal and Galicia. For those lucky enough to have attended their live performances in Portugal a few years back or to have at least listened to these recordings, needless to say that this release was long awaited.

Inspired by their homeland, its traditions, its community of the living and the dead, its vestiges... Sangre Cavallum offer here a unique ethnological-musical document filled with mysteries and memories. They describe their music as "old and new tribute songs to the land of our birth"... and it is definitely what 'Barbara Carmina' is. A tribute to their ancestors whose spectres and souls seem to float under the overall compositions as if they carried on transmitting the oral traditions to the youngest (as the voice of the child singing 'Barbara Carmina' on the first track and also present on the last part suggests). Indeed, this album sounds unlike any other in the neofolk, medieval style. Sangre Cavallum have managed to express in their own particular way, through words and music of their own, their roots and traditions. And from this point of view, this release also appears as refreshing; sounding authentic, sincere because of the true and sincere knowledge and implication of these musicians. A feeling of honoured and respected traditions emanates from the whole album... It's not just tradition as an artifice or a pretext chosen amongst many others to release something....
The using of traditional instruments (tambourine, mandolin, Iberian lute...), mixed with female and male vocals and some fine background sounds create different atmospheres ranging from melancholy ('Luadas' 'Rio Douro' 'Flumen Cavallum') to joy ('Limia, Flumen Oblivionis', 'Sete Punhaladas') as suggested by the cover photos of a musical ritual taken during some old wine fests.

It is important to precise that this album was originally composed, arranged, and assembled by Sangre Cavallum on a four-track cassette recorder which have been brilliantly remastered by Robert Ferbrache.
The effort done to translate in English each word featuring on the artwork also deserves to be mentioned. It will help the listener to get a better comprehension of the purposes pursued by Sangre Cavallum through this document and to enjoy this strong and very recommended release.

Nathalie F.
Summer 2004

Sangre Cavallum: Bárbaro Oficio, Apartado 195, 4560 Penafiel, Portugal -
Storm: c/o P.O. Box 129, Waterbury Center, VT 05677, U.S.A.
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