Thursday, March 11, 2010

Me voy a Valencia - Gent Del desert

Gent Del Desert - El Record (2009)

(see lyrics with English translation below)

Vacations, again, at last ... 2 days left, and I'll be on the plane to Valencia, sunny Spain, to meet my friend Honorio, during the holiday week of Fallas (see photo). He's one of my Internet friends that I've never seen, we had a lot of great conversations in the Acclaimed Music forum. And we're making music together, by file exchanges. We recorded 4 covers (Brassens, Ry Cooder, Springsteen, Chestnutt)
Next monday we'll go to a studio and mix the songs. I'll post them here when I'll be back in 2 weeks.

So, no River's Invitation posts next week.

But today I'd like to introduce you with a Valencian band called Gent Del Desert. They sing in Valencian, the local language, which is close to Catalan.

According to Honorio, who played guitar on the album : "Gent del Desert is the music wing of a group of people, mainly poets, that gather every Thursday to sing some songs, read some poetry and chat about music and literature. They call themselves El Desert de la Paraula (The Desert of the Word). None of them except Jesús (the leader, and honorio's brother) and Marc had previous music experience (some of the other members, Sergi, Vicent and Pep however have published poetry books), but they were able to put together a fine album called “El Pèndol i la Terra” (“The Pendulum and the Earth”, 2007) a spoken-word album about texts of David Mira, a poet from Ontinyent, with music backing of traditional folk-songs and Jesús and Marc own compositions.

The approach to the second work, recorded during 2008 at Jesus' house, has been quite different and more ambitious. They again added music to poems but the majority of the songs were sung, although they did not completely give up the spoken-word. Moreover some poems were penned by members of the band. And the music approach abandoned the almost pure folk sound of the first album, adding many colours and textures coming from diverse styles including rock. As Henrik (from Acclaimedmusic) perfectly pointed in a personal e-mail, “Gent del Desert both look back and ahead, being both rootsy and experimental”.

My favourite song from “Molles” is (funnily) the only completely spoken one in the style of the previous album. The lyrics comes from a poem from Lluís Roda about childhood memories (and whorehouses). You can read the translated lyrics next. The first verses are recited by Vicent as an intro without background music but the main body of the poem is recited by Sergi, who does an excellent work here, giving the exact tone to the story, detached and mocking but evocative and emotional enough. And the background music is awesome (in my humble and non-objective opinion), based in another original tune with country and border flavours that Jesús and me used to play many years ago (once it was called “Vals del callejón”, “Backstreet Waltz”). The protagonists here are the guest musicians, the song is held up by an excellent tuba and accordion part played by Miquel Payà and the superb pedal steel part played by Pablo Gisbert (pupil of British blues guitar-player Graham Foster). The rest of the instruments are played by my brother himself, including guitars, percussion, banjo and piano (I love this fabulous honky-tonk piano figure at 2’14”!).
Seeing the many country music fans here in this forum I’m sure you will enjoy the song.

EL RECORD (Lluís Roda / Jesús Barranco)

És cert que fores, però a qui li interessa?
És teu només, el record.
Mira-ho bé i tira-ho, a ningú li fa cap falta...
Ni tu mateix te’n recordaves.

La via del tren separava la ciutat asfaltada. A l’altra banda, no hi havia res.
Un descampat, un solar, escombraries. Enderrocs, una séquia una claveguera.
Fang i pols i pedres. Herba i camps esparsos. Entre naus i fusteries i tallers.
I bars, alguns de putes.
I un enorme pal o bastida elèctrica, enmig de tot allò.
Un home havia sigut trobat mort penjat dels cables d’alta tensió.

La propietària del bar de putes, i l’única cambrera que recorde,
era una dona gran, o m’ho semblava,
amb faldilla curta i botes, cabell ros o platí,
amb uns pits punxeguts. Literalment, acabats en punta.

A les tres de la vesprada, el bar ja era obert.
L’obríem nosaltres cada vegada que passàvem, puntualment, en anar a escola.
Déiem puta i pegàvem a fugir.
Després ens aturàvem per veure si eixia, sempre eixia. I la véiem.

A vegades hi havia algú dins.
Sempre pensàvem que estava fent-ho.
A vegades deixava, o restava, la porta entreoberta.
I passàvem a poc a poc, una i altra vegada. Fins que la tancaven.
Era de vidre opac de colors diversos: roig, blau...

Un dia tancaren el bar, i en posaren un altre, amb vidres transparents pintats.
Recorde el dia que els pintaven: Bocadillos – Tapas variadas,
amb una clòtxina i una gamba dibuixades. No tenia cap interés.
Uns mesos després asfaltaren el carrer.

TEXT: Lluís Roda, Elogi de la llibertat, poemari datat a València entre 1990 i 1994 (Edicions Bromera, 2001, pàg. 7 i

THE MEMORY (Lluís Roda / Jesús Barranco)

You were there, that’s true. But, who cares?
The memory is only yours
Look at it and throw it, nobody needs it...
Not even you remembered it

The railroad track divided the asphalted city. On the other side there was nothing.
An open ground, a piece of land, rubbish. Rubbles, a ditch, a sewer.
Mud, dust and stones. Grass and scattered fields.
Between warehouses, carpenters workshops and repair shops.
And bars, some of them whorehouses.
And a big stick or electric pylon in the middle of that.
A man was found dead hanged on the high voltage wires.

The owner of the whorehouse, and the only waitress I remember,
was an elder woman, or so it seemed to me,
wearing a miniskirt and boots, platinum blonde hair,
with pointed breast. Literally, pointed at the end.

At three o’clock on the afternoon, the bar was open yet.
We opened it every time we passed, punctually, on our way to school.
We shouted whore! and ran away.
And then we stopped to see if she came out. She always came out. And we saw her.

Sometimes there was someone inside.
We always thought that he was doing it.
Sometimes the door was left, or remained, half open.
And we passed slowly, again and again. Until someone closed it.
It was made of opaque glass with different colors: red, blue...

One day they closed the bar, and they opened another one, with painted transparent glass.
I remember the day they painted it: Sandwiches – Assorted Snacks
with a draw of a mussel and a shrimp. It lacked any interest.
Some months later they asphalted the street.

LYRICS: Lluís Roda, Elogi de la llibertat (“Praise for Freedom” , poems dated in València between 1990 and 1994 (Edicions Bromera, 2001, pages. 7 and 8)

Discover Gent Del Desert on Myspace


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