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Banda Do Casaco - Hoje Há Conquilhas, Amanhã Não Sabemos CD (album) cover


Banda Do Casaco


Prog Folk

4.24 | 39 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars The crown jewel of Portuguese progressive music

Hoje Há Conquilhas, Amanhã Não Sabemos is an extremely difficult album for me to review properly. It deserves a thorough analysis by someone clearly more competent to judge than me - still, I will try to do my best. To begin with, it's difficult to review because there is so much to analyse: vocals, instruments, song structure, History, similarities with other bands, originality, etc, and my own knowledge (whether of music theory or just music in general) is simply not enough to do it justice. So I will adopt my usual approach to reviews by trying to describe in the simplest, most honest way what I'm hearing. But boy, it won't be easy.

Like in previous albums, the band took 800 years of Portuguese folk and refurbished them in modern sounds, courtesy of electricity, while at the same time maintaining the use of archaic and traditional instruments. On Hoje Há Conquilhas, Amanhã Não Sabemos, their experimentalism took a step further, following the footsteps of their debut instead of their more conventional second album. There is still room in this album for some of the melancholic folk of Coisas do Arco da Velha, but it offers so much more, in fewer songs than previous efforts. Acalanto opens the album with the typical eerieness of the band. A delicate flute is heard, accompanied by dissonant strings, before the dominant cello steps into the picture, paving the way to a languid male chorus. A sudden change of pace as the full band comes in. The acoustic guitar, flute and violin take the lead. A short violin solo makes the transition for the band's first attempt at rock, featuring a drum kit and an electric guitar - still, it's the violin and cello that have prominence, along with one of several instruments unknown to me. The track then returns to its opening eeriness and languid chorus. The next track, Despique, is another take on traditional themes. It begins with the delicate sound of tuning, before another unusual instrument opens the song (Stylophone?). It features the funny vocals of António Pinho accompanied by the violin. The drums are once more modern sounding, adding flavour to this amusing folk rant. The delicate voice of Gabriela Schaaf opens the next track, País: Portugal accompanied only by the acoustic guitar. The drums soon kick in, as well as the wild saxophone solo by Rão Kyao. In a strategy so common to Banda do Casaco, the famale vocals give way to the male, and vice-versa. The fast pace of this song is complemented by the drums, violin and a subtle electric guitar. Alvorada, Tio Lérias! begins in a spacey mood, clearly dominated by bass, that quickly turns into a thrilling strings track, very similar to chamber music, with the cello and violin dominating, subtly complemented by the electric guitar. A sudden change in pace in rhythm give way into an almost martial beat, with the adufes, drums and wild flutes being heard. A paraphernalia of small traditional percussion instruments then bring this excellent track to a close. Geringonça is the first track by the band to features that ultimate prog instrument, the mellotron. The celestial choir of the keyboard open this spacey song, soon enriched by a sweet flute, delicate electric guitar chords and the lovely voice of Gabriela Schaaf. After the first sung section, the drums, strings and unidentified electric instrument make their appearance. A delicate, yet powerful track, spacey in sound and theme (an alien sighting), featuring, as usual, great arrangements and an unusual (but highly welcome) mellotron and electric guitar. Dez-Onze-Doze is another take on the sounds of Portuguese folk, featuring an impressive array of traditional instruments, in a very celtic sounding track, whose percussion and strings provide it with a very fast pace, here and there broken by the melancholic chorus. The guitars introduce the vigorous lead male vocals, complemented by a full band chorus. Of special relevance in this track are the guitar and harmonica solos. A spacey female chorus brings the song to its end. Ont'à Noite is a traditional ballad, with a piano, harp and violin driven opening, dominated by the stunning angelical vocals of Mena Amaro and the soothing tone of Nuno Rodrigues. The piano, harp and violin are replaced, in a second section, by acoustic and jazzy electric guitars, flute and bass, before the delicate, jazzy fade-out. Água de Rosas is an instrumental closer - a short, bucolic track, driven almost exclusively by the string instruments (violins, cello, guitars), also featuring flute and another unusual appearance, the oboe. A delicate finish to an exciting album. Overall, it is an extremely varied record in terms in musicality, even if folk is the dominant trend. Here and there you can hear hints of chamber music, the space-rock of bands like Eloy, jazz- fusion in the vein of Miles, and the kind of ethnic music and chorus one could find among Oldfield's finest works, all delivered with a technical proficiency hard to find these days in a rock band. The female vocals reach the heights of Maddy Prior and Annie Haslam (sometimes surpassing them), while the male vocals vary from soothing to vibrant. It is truly an orgy of sounds, with plenty to explore.

Hoje Há Conquilhas, Amanhã Não Sabemos is an extremely influential work. Few albums have been quoted as an influence by groups and artists so diverse in musical background - it is featured in the preferences of contemporary jazz, rock, pop, folk, punk, classic and minimalist composers in Portugal. It is also a common presence in every list of greatest Portuguese albums regardless of genre. I am no exception to that - the album is placed high on my all-time favourites list. The degree of experimentation, technical ability, and quality of composition in terms of progressiveness is still high, even if it's already 1977. So, while late, it is indeed a masterpiece of progressive-folk, well-deserving of the five eggs. Stars, I mean.

Kotro | 5/5 |


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