on 5 June 2013
Sephardi repertoire brought bang up-to-date
Los Desterrados, meaning 'the exiles', formed in 2000 with the aim of bringing ancient Ladino music back to life for modern audiences. Their fourth album, Dos Amantes, is a feast of musical styles and influences made up of a traditional Sephardi (Jewish-Spanish) repertoire with influences from flamenco, Balkan music and Gypsy melodies, with Greek, Turkish and North African tonalities and rhythms. Traditional instruments from the Middle East, such as oud, darbuka and daf meet violin, viola, guitars, flutes, bass, mandolin and vocals. The six-member London group is joined by several guest musicians to create a tight, vibrant ensemble fusing traditional sounds with classical music, rock, jazz and soul. The fabulous vocals are mostly in Ladino, occasionally venturing into Hebrew. 'Qiriyateinu' (Our Town) is a wedding song, celebrating the bride and groom. A solo male voice alternates with choral responses, punctuated by occasional joyous ululations. The North African melodies and driving rhythms gather intensity as the celebrations proceed. Love is a recurring theme on the album, and the passionate love song 'Asheriko' (Maiden) alternates between beautiful solo female vocals and tight choral singing.
'We always start with the original lyrics and melody,' states the band. 'Everything else is pretty much open for interpretation.' Dos Amantes is full of great musical arrangements and surprises with a vast range of vocal and instrumental styles and expertise. It is a real tribute to the extensive array of cultural influences that serve Sephardi music.
TRACK TO TRY: Dos Amantes