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lunes, 10 de agosto de 2015

Banda do Casaco - Dos Benefícios De Um Vendido No Reino Dos Bonifácios (1974)

Artista: Banda do Casaco
Álbum: Dos Benefícios De Um Vendido No Reino Dos Bonifácios
Año: 1974
Género: Prog Folk
Nacionalidad: Portugal

Lista de Temas:
01. Aliciação - Espírito Imundo
02. D'Alma Aviada
03. A Ladainha das Comadres
04. A Cavalo Dado
05. Henrique Ser Ou Não Henriquecer
06. Bonifácios
07. Lavados, Lavados Sim
08. Cocktail do Braço de Prata
09. Na Boca do Inferno
10. Horas de Ponta e Mola
11. Memorando - Sábado Sauna Sábado Santo
12. Opúsculo

- Nuno Rodrigues - vocals, guitars, sistrum
- Judi Brennan - vocals
- Celso de Carvalho - double bass, cello, vibraphone
- Helena Afonso - vocals
- António Pinho - vocals, tymbales, sistrum
- Carlos Zíngaro - vocals, violin, electric guitar, cello, double bass, carillon, tymbales
- Luís Linhares - pianos, flute
- José Campos e Sousa - vocals, guitar
- Nelson Portelinha - vocals, guitars, trumpet, trombone, vibraphone, flute

Y siguiendo con los aportes de nuestros amigos, desde Portugal tenemos a Pedro haciendo tremendos aportes de cosas de su país e incluso alguna maravilla de estas tierras. Pero empezamos con un glorioso disco de una banda que hace mucho tiempo ya habíamos presentado....

Música progresiva con un fuerte vínculo con la música popular en su álbum debut, aires de la Incredible String Band inundan el disco, que es una experiencia de sonido auténtico, sin momentos de debilidad, una reinvención constante de armonías, ritmos y melodías. Modernidad en la música portuguesa, producto de una banda asombrosa.
Hasta aquí mi comentario, ya les dije que tengo poco tiempo para escribir y muchos discos para traerles. Les dejo un video y algunos comentarios en inglés para que vean la calidad de todo esto. Disfrútenlo que está tremendo.

Banda Do Casaco, a group whose music is based at the same time in the deep roots of tradition with cosmopolitan influences and in an urbanity still very marked by the rural and work Portugal cultures.
The lyrics are very sarcastic, ironic and lucid.
“Quem és tu que me prometes o futuro (…) E quem sou eu que te mereça entre mil milhões sobre esta terra?” \
"Who are you that promises me the future? (...) And who am I to deserve your attention among the thousand millions on this earth?" (1)
“Lá íamos mesmo nadando / lá íamos mesmo não dando / nadando, nadando sim / não dando, não dando o sim” \
"There we went, swiming / there we went, not giving / yes, swiming, swiming / giving not, giving not the yes" (7)
“Enriquecer depois de Henrique ser é o perdão?” \
"Getting rich after being Henrique is the pardon? (5)
Musically, the group made in Portugal (in Rádio Triunfo studios) what José Mário Branco and José Afonso had made in France (in Strawberry studios) 3 years before: a completely vanguardist sound and inteligent arrangements.
The use of the 8 musicians and its instruments potencials put the listner in front of a surprizing and stimulating debut album. We must notice the string instruments (violin, guitars and cellos) and the two female vocal singers' performance (Judi Brennan and Helena Afonso).
For its magnificent arrangements, we must mention some songs:
3 - the folk and popular tales in the percussions and flute arrangements (“Vade retro Satanás / T’arrenego Belzebu / Ai Jesus cruzes canhoto / Lagarto, lagarto, lagarto”);
4 - a typical progressive construction, with part changes (note as the candle and religion smells gets to our noses when the two singers say cantam “(chegaram carros àquela igreja) toda enfeitada” \ "(cars arrived to that church) well ornamented";
5 - a nice melody achieved by voices, guitars and violin (it remembers “Linda Pastorinha”, recorded in 79 by Almanaque, a record produced by Nuno Rodrigues, the same composer of almost songs of this Banda Do Casaco album);
7 - the inicial folklore, based on violin and with a second part majestically epic, with trumpet in the back and the cellos dramatic sounding;
9 - a monster speakes in a cave and a female melody echoes, enprisioned; by the 25 second and until the end of the first section the contrabass and guitar reminds “Era Um Redondo Vocábulo”, by José Afonso (1973)
10 - melody based at piano and vibraphone with a electric guitar arrangements that sound King Crimson and Robert Fripp in “Moonchild” (1969).
After one hears this first album we might think time hasn't passed. Or that was no time to pass even.
More that 30 years after its original release, this time is still unprepared to these songs. The vinyl edition can be found here and there, used. It worths, because of the artwork comics, made by the multi-instrumentist Carlos Zíngaro.
My vote is different to the first edition's vote, for this was a losen opportunity to make a good reissue.
Horas de Ponta e Mola This music name mixes two expressions very used in Portuguese: We call "hora de ponta" to the rush hour. And we say about automatic guns (I guess) guns of "ponta e mola".
Here's the lyric:
It's a guy, It's an office,
A tie, a suspensório (those things some students use in their uniforms, to keep the trousers up)
A toilet chat
It's a note, a trap
It's a work, a boring
between smoke and an aspirin
It's to put your sole on a road
dressed in the horas de ponta e mola
It's uninteresting talks
It's an electric bus, a pendura (the person who takes a ride in this veicle without paying)
A return, and a diziness
It's a very yellow smiling
It's a house, a family
A toast, a tetley tea
A talk, a real boring
It's a slipper and a child
Tv with Vitorino (Vitorino Nemésio, a writter who made a program about literature in the seventies, by the time this album was recorded)
The slowliness of a suicide
It's to put your sole on a road
dressed in the horas de ponta e mola
It's a silence, a ritual
It's the lackeys of the commendatore
It's the colourless ties
On a funeral procession.

Folk-Rock ensemble hailing from the Iberian peninsula and formed by singer Antonio Pinho and pianist Luis Linhares,both former members of Filarmónica Fraude,a musical project which failed due to political reasons.The two of them met with ex-Música Novarum guitarist Nuno Rodrigues and bassist/cellist Celso de Carvalho to establish the basic form of BANDA DO CASACO,who meant to be one of the historical bands in Portugese history.First album ''Dos benefícios dum vendido no reino dos bonifácios'' was recorded in 1974 but only released the next year ,fortunately a CD re-issue would follow about 20 years later on Phillips.
BANDA DO CASACO was always a group dealing with social and political issues and thus they became very popular in their country.Their sound is very far from the rock attitude,actually this album could easily be described as Folk music with experimental and psych elements here and there.12 short tracks with extensive lyrical content do not leave much space for adventuruous musicianship,however some of them contain quite nice passages close to the progressive rock nature:acoustic guitars and piano interplays,delicate flutes,a few grandiose horn sections and a good dose of complex violins,contra-bass and cellos offer sometimes a decent music experience.Unfortunately the shorter tracks are only dominated by Acoustic Music and vocals and a foreign listener loses such way his interest,unless you are familiar with the Portugese language.Speaking of vocals,both male and female work here is very nice,sometimes presenting decent polyphonic lines.As for the typical rock instrumentation,only ''Cocktail do Braço de Prata'' and ''Horas de Ponta e Mola'' contain a few distinctive electric moments supported by some beatiful piano and keys...and please notice the total absence of a drummer.
The final result is a big question mark in my head.Lots of stuff in here sounds really boring and leaves me rather cold,while the musicianship can get sometimes really intricate and challenging,regarding the clear folk nature of the band.The accurate rating is exactly 5/10,but I will upgrade this one to three stars,considering the album's importance and the quite original sound of the band.For pure folk fans though,this would be possibly a highly recommended album.

Very good Progressive Folk that should be ranked among the top albums of the genre, here Banda do Casaco plays some folk a la Comus, sometimes even dealing with the dark and evil side of the matter as the aforementioned band does, with some more dense Prog Rock added, something like a Gentle Giant influence I would say. Anyway, better than 91,7% of the progressive folk albums I heard so far, and usually forgotten as happens with most of the higher rating albums from the iberian peninsula, they just seem to be drowned in the averageness of the most popular ones.

And now for all of you out there who cannot imagine what kind of music has been produced in this south-western corner of Europe - don’t feel like ignorants, because I’m sure more than 90% of us in Portugal even heard this either.
What can I write to convince you to try to find and/or listen to this masterpiece (personal opinion many of you will agree with, I hope )
You’ll find in this page a very good review by our colleague Altair who very well describes in detail and in an expert language what waits for you as you’ll play the CD.
I personally feel that Banda do Casaco in what was their first recording may be compared in terms of progressiveness to I.S.B.; but they mellow the sound with voices and harmonies that recall Renaissence and Cello/violin passages that sound like Fuchsia.
They change rhythms and melodies in Gentle Giant’s vein sometimes.
And you’ll also have your share of MPP (Portuguese Popular Music).
The Lyrics are also very important - this is also a concept album - and it is like these guys were waiting for the revolution that overthrew the dictatorship that ruled Portugal until 1974, to release this record.
This could not have seen the light of day in the ancient regime (censorship wouldn’t had allowed it), but this could also not have been written in the short period between the revolution and the time they went into the studio, at the end of 1974.
So if you try to understand the story it will sound/shine even better;
but anyhow, give it a try; you won’t regret it...

I´m still listening to this music. It intrigues me, being full of eccentric ideas and wondrous/weird juxtapositions of seemingly unrelated music, such as psychedelia, gentle folk tunes and medieval a cappella singing. The language is foreign to me and I hardly understand a word, let alone the social context of the album, but it is certainly an album that I will return to. My rating is therefore very "preliminary", meaning, in this context, "I´m very impressed".
Reminds me of: Os Mutantes (Brazil), Super Furry Animals (Wales - I think) and early Stuðmenn (Icelandic), Spilverk Þjóðanna (Icelandic also) and Gentle Giant (UK)

Eça de Queiroz meets British progressive folk meets pagan incantations performed at night in some god forsaken portuguese woods (Penacova or Penedono maybe). A most curious artyfact, cool Carlos Zíngaro artwork as well.

Typically when one see a Latin band listed as folk, particularly one whose genesis was in the seventies, the instant expectation is to hear either a lot of fat acoustic flamenco-like guitar and castanets; or yet another Santana clone. Well think more like the diversity and multi-disciplined artistic approach of Beggar’s Opera; a little bit of After Crying’s penchant for mixing chamber chorals with piano, ethnic instrumentation, and spoken-word passages; and Super Furry Animal’s sarcastic sense of humor, and you would be a bit closer to what these guys sound like.
It’s very difficult to assess an album when all the reference material about them is in Portuguese (unless you speak Portuguese of course), and when some thirty-two years have passed since the album had any kind of visibility beyond the band’s tight group of fans. But let’s try.
First, the album artwork here is more like something to be expected of Birth Control or even the Furries. Multimedia artist and band violinist Carlos Zíngaro provides the adult-underground like cartoon sketches on the cover, and while they’re kind of funny this is not what you’d expect of a folk band. Que sera.
The music here is an eclectic and haphazard mix of acoustic folk that borders on Wyrd at times, those chamber-like vocals supplied by just about everyone in the band but mostly the two female members Judi Brennan and Helena Afonso, the requisite acoustic guitars, Zíngaro’s violin, and all manner of brass, woodwinds and percussion. I even heard what sounded like a Jew’s harp on “Bonifacios “. The strings are mostly discordant and tense; the brass mostly improvisational and jazzy. There’s lots of delicate piano and even the occasional electric guitar. I’m not exactly sure how many instruments are employed among the nine band members, but there are about twenty listed in the liner notes.
So you get the picture: lots of instrumental sounds, plenty of vocals, and what seems to be a largely irreverent approach to composition that results in songs that require close attention to avoid missing anything.
There’s not much point in my trying to decipher all that’s going on here – that must be left to someone who has a native mastery of the Portuguese tongue. But a few observations can be made: “Horas de ponta e mola” contains the most emotive and beautiful strings on the album, while “Aliciação - espirito imundo” blends Latin and Arab percussion and strings into a veritable stew pot of world music sound. Zíngaro shines on violin on the brief but beautiful “Henrique ser ou nao henriquecer”. And “Cocktail do braço de prata” seems to cover about a century of folk sounds in its four and a half short minutes.
There’s lots to absorb here, and nearly all of it is worth the time and effort. I’ve only had the chance to listen to this for a couple of weeks and already I know I’ll be revisiting this review some time down the road to flesh it out with more discoveries. In the meantime I hope other progressive fans discover these guys and their deep discography. If this debut is any example then Banda do Casaco has plenty to offer. Four stars and well recommended.
Bob Moore

A historical document and all-round awesome album
So, I finally have some time to review the albums that I know from this almost forgotten band. More of a small orchestra then a typical 3-5 piece band (their origin was a phylarmonic, even if it was a fraudulent one - pun intended), Banda do Casaco took portuguese folk music to new heights, mixing modern instrumentation with traditional themes. Very much like any other folk-rock band, one might say. Well, it's not that simple.
When Banda do Casaco first appeared, the concept of traditional folk music in Portugal was restricted to popular balls and marches, songs taught to children in pre-school, and ethnical dances. Banda do Casaco took other themes from deep folk culture, and revamped them in new lyrics, using the unapparent musicallity of the Portuguese language through several wordplays. This was a constant throughout most of their albums, but it is especially present in this one - Dos Benefícios Dum Vendido no Reino Dos Bonifácios is an exceptionally strong vocal folk- prog recording: it features some very poetical lyrics and singing, with great choirs, and unusual ranges (Na Boca do Inferno, for instance, has some low rough vocals that could easily find a spot on some Death Metal album 30 years later). But let's by trying to describe the most important element: sound.
This is not a rock album. It's a full-blown folk album whose arrangements and experimentation make it fall under the "progressive" moniker. The album opens with the sound of drums, in an almost tribal rhythm, which is soon enough followed by an incredible paraphernalia of instruments, with the strings being the most dominant element. The first track reeks of Wyrd, although one cannot really be sure if the band knew what Wyrd was. Aliciação - Espírito Imundo is reminiscent of some of the sounds of Comus' First Utterance, with it's delicate percussion and subtle vocals, with the piano and female choir complementing the strings later on. D'Alma Aviada and Ladaínha das Comadres follow on this sonority, with some lovely acoustic guitar work and harp, as well as the wild violin. Percussion is present here and there, always in a fast-paced, almost tribal rhythm, with the later track featuring a hypnotic litany accompanied by flute. A Cavalo Dado is an astonishing track due to its multiple variations in such short time, less than 3 minutes, beginning with a pastoral choir accompanied by a jazzy piano, switching to a repetitive theme closer to a rock n'roll rhythm, then back to strict folk. Lovely choir vocals present throughout the song, before the cool ending with some sublime piano and declamation. Henrique Ser ou Não Enriquecer is the shortest track, a delicate pastoral folk ballad delivered by the female voices of the band, featuring a lovely violin solo by multi-instrumentalist Carlos Zíngaro. Bonifácios is an acoustic guitar-driven ballad, with some soft male vocals, and a catchy rhythm. The first half of Lavados Lavados Sim is the folkiest part of the album, close to the typical sounds of village fairs of days long gone. Featuring an interesting interplay of male and female choir, it soon sees the introduction of cello and horns, at times evocative of Renaissance. The jazzy piano returns in the end, clearly breaking all conventions of folk tunes. Cocktail do Braço de Prata begins with the interplay of acoustic guitar and violin, before the vocals kick-in. Like A Cavalo Dado, it features plenty of variations in sound, between regular folk and some percussion that reminds me of Moerlen's work in Gong. A delicate electric guitar can be heard in the back. Na Boca do Inferno is a two-part song (in only two minutes), featuring some very low, rough vocals in a grim track dominated by the violin. It quickens in pace as it comes to the end and several instruments (mostly flute and acoustic guitar) take their place in an amazing vortex of sound. The Gong-like xylophone-like percussion returns for the beginning of Horas de Ponta e Mola, where we also get some piano and electric guitar in the background. The longest track of the album, it is more constant in its sad, delicate sonority than many of the other shorter tracks. The ending is extremely eerie, with a weeping violin being heard over the repetitive piano, like something out of the darkest Hitchcockian scene. Memorando - Sábado Sauna Sábado Santo, after a small spoken part, begins almost like a lullaby, even though the words sung by male and female vocals are far from advisable to children. The chorus drops this sonority at moments, but the sarcastic lullaby dominates. The final track, Opúsculo, is a mostly vocal track, with a cacophony of instruments and sounds in the background. Vocals do dominate this album - as I said previously, a lot of the musicality inherent to the songs comes from the singing, greatly helped by a mastery of the Portuguese language not available to every native speaker. The main concern was to make the words musical, something not very easy to achieve in any language, while at the same time having them making sense, which is even harder - yet the band managed to do so in style. Let's give the theme a quick run-trough.
The album is in fact a concept album, but you wouldn't really know it unless you read the liner notes, where the entire storyline is explained - it is basically the story of a man (the "Vendido" - sell-out) who sells his soul to the devil (there is a thin line between metaphor and fictional reality regarding this "sale") in order to be rich and successful in the "Kingdom of the Bonifácios" (Portugal, presumably in the years that preceded the 74 revolution) - a Portuguese society musical spin on Dr. Faust, if you will. A giant metaphor criticising the abandon of moral values in exchange for money, power, and ultimately, comfort. Our subject, the "sell-out", is a rural man, awaken from his sleep by a gorgeous woman, who lures him with promises of all sorts. Thus the title, Aliciação/Espírito Imundo (The Luring/Immoral Spirit). In the second song, he observes his simple way of life, which never pleased him, and decides to sell his soul to the woman whom now appears to him as the Devil. The song's title (D'Alma Aviada) is one of several puns and wordplays present in the album. Before he leaves, he his stopped by the elder women of his village (the "Comadres"), who instantly know something isn't right. They warn him, and he answers with scorn. The women sing a litany ("Ladaínha") to keep the Devil away. In the next song, A Cavalo Dado. (Don't look a gift horse.) the "sell-out" sets out on his journey and meets a one-armed woman, created by the Devil, with whom he marries for money, after briefly thinking it over in the track Henrique Ser ou Não Enriquecer (another of those puns and wordplays impossible to translate without loss of meaning). Bonifácios is a lovely poem which makes a really sarcastic, but in the end, very true appraisal of the Portuguese - they appear here as sheep, as Henrique (Prince Henry the Navigator) and his political heirs drive thousands of them into hard living conditions and death for their own profit. It establishes a parallel with Lavados Lavados Sim, which speaks of all those who, in the 20th Century, had to leave the country searching for a better life while others, like our "sell-out", were getting richer at their cost. With the money he has made serving the State, the sell-out is able to afford is armless (but not harmless) wife a shinny new silver arm - this is told in the 8th song, Cocktail do Braço-de-Prata. With a fat account in a Swiss bank, his family taken care of, the "sell-out" spends his days fattening himself even further. In the haze of success, he appears to have forgoten his earlier contract. But the evil is there to remind him - in Na Boca do Inferno Beelzebub himself reminds the sell-out of his contract, and puts him back on his path, by telling him to take his son to Boca do Inferno (Hell's Gates, loosely translated - a cliff near Lisbon overlooking the Atlantic) and teach him how to follow is own success, by dropping all moral values in favour of watching over one's own back. Horas de Ponta e Mola - yes, another wordplay, this time combining the expressions "Hora de Ponta"(rush hour) and "Ponta e Mola" (switchblade knife) -, along with the next track, Memorandum - Sábado Sauna, Sábado Santo, tell us how our "sell- out" is safely at home with his family after a day's work, while a presumable partner is killed-off by his henchmen. He coldly tells his secretary to send a nice envelope to the widow and buy the kids something. Sábado Sauna, Sábado Santo shows the band in their nastiest sarcastic poetical vein, telling us about the good life of those whose money makes them invincible and hides their crimes, while they practice the good life of saunas and gambling on Saturday morning and church and family in the evening. The final track has the most undecipherable meaning of the album, but the final liner notes are clear: "the sell-out remains faithful to Fatherland, God, and Family - or so he claims. We say: to Hell with him!". Unlike Faust, there is no Lord to save our "sell-out" from his diabolical contract, probably because he doesn't want to be saved. Its an extremely vicious (but deserved) attack on the lack of moral values of pre-1974 Portuguese society (but which could have perfectly been written today) and those who forget their humanity in the face of capital and power. A lot of the meaning in this album will be lost to non-portuguese speakers - hell, it may even be lost to some natives - and I cannot dabble to much in it in the space of this review: the literary content of this album would be enough to fill the pages of an academic thesis. It may be of help to say that the whole theme of the album is visually summarized in the artwork - a small comic book where one can easily identify the elements told by the words and music, using humorous, exaggerated and provocative drawings, courtesy of Carlos Zíngaro.
Dos Benefícios Dum Vendido No Reino Dos Bonifácios, despite the "folk" label, is everything but a cheerful album - it is actually a display of very grim, eerie and dark music, complementing an even darker storyline. The instrumentation of choice (more than 20, not counting other objects not necessarily instruments) are kept to minimum levels of volume, with the strings and piano occasionally achieving a greater presence. The vocals are essential is conveying the various moods, and all singers of the band do an exquisite job. Everything about this album is top-notch: composition, songwriting, musicianship, performance. A sublime array of talents, with plenty to discover and guaranteed to make you want to listen over and over, each time discovering something new - the pleasure is doubled for those who understand the concept. This is not a masterpiece of progressive rock, but only because it's not progressive rock. It is a sublime folk album with progressive leanings and a masterpiece in its own right. Anywhere else it would get five stars, but for the purposes of this website it will have to settle for four - but rest assure, Banda do Casaco will get their 5-stars from me soon enough, in another album. Because no matter how good this album is, it's NOT as good as it gets from this band.
João Cotrim

Great debut!
Banda do Casaco surely had the knowhow and when freedom of speech came to Portugal (1974...so late) they started recording one album each year, and this was the first, in75. It´s not better nor worst than their other abums from the 70´s, at least the ones i know (the first three), wich indicates that this was a very consistent group of musicians despiste the formation changes and various guests. They always seemed to be able to keep things interesting no matter what they did.
The Music: This is Folk,Prog Folk, not Rock! this has no Rock at all, this doesn´t even have drums, just some ocasional percussion here and there. still it has great rythm when it´s intended to.This are characteristics of Portuguese tradicional music, low on percussion, high on vocals and a sad feeling to it, melodies to make you cry...just like Fado! (Fado:tradicional music that consists in vocals and acoustic guitars of various types and sizes, exclusive from Portugal) Vocals are the main instrument and all the other instruments come and go as they support the excellent lyrics,all in Portuguese...please don´t ask me to translate,i haven´t got the time nor the knowledge to do so. I can only say that the lyrics are very political due to the times they where going through (Portugal just had a revolution,the fascist pigs got their ass kicked!)...political but ironic and funny, always simple...these where words for the people to understand, people who had been repressed for too long...i think you got the picture!
The Instruments: This guys played...everything, i don´t even know what...! Everything but drums, though not missed... the thing about BDC´s music are the melodies, the multi-instrumentalism and the message in the words, not the rythm. Remember Gentle Giant? these guys play as many, probably even more instruments than GG! And they do it very well, with virtuosity!(like GG!) And they go from very simple to extremely complicated in a blink of an eye, without any fuzz! Great dynamics!
So, if you want prog rock long epics you should keep away, this has no drums, does not rock and the tracks are short.
But if you are openminded and you´re looking for some folk orientated original music this is it! ...and even if you don´t catch a word of Portuguese this will still be pleasant, this certainly dodges the obvious and that´s what prog is about... something like you never heard before! Try it!

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Este espacio se reserva el derecho de publicar sobre cualquier tema que parezca interesante a su staff, no solamente referidos a la cuestión musical sino también a lo político y social.
Si no estás de acuerdo con lo expresado podrás dejar tu comentario siempre que no sea ofensivo, discriminador o violento...

Y no te confundas, no nos interesa la piratería, lo nuestro es simplemente desobediencia civil y resistencia cultural a favor del libre acceso al conocimiento (nuestra música es, entre otras tantas cosas, conocimiento).