Auga de Maio
(Green Linnet, 2000)

Impressions of Milladoiro ... one minute I am floating down the Nile as Egyptian reeds make an eerie but serene calling to a self of mine from an incarnation thousands of years old (i.e., first cut, "Alalas de Ulla," which is traditional). The next, it's as if I am listening to a planxty from the Chieftains replete with bones ("O Santo de Polvora"). Yet, another moment or three passes and I am listening to an engaging minor melody line that could perhaps be described as what happens in traditional folk music when a Gallic player plays a minor melody. Is there no end to the diversity? Here comes a fine tin whistle tune that just goes to show that a Celt's a Celt for aw' that! And that, my friends, is Milladoiro in a nutshell. But a nutshell can't hold this much talent.

Milladoiro, comprised of Galacian gentlemen from the north of Spain, blends an eclectic mix of instrumentation which includes the bagpipe, clarinet, tin whistle, crumhorn, Galician tambourine, vocals, harp, bouzouki, guitar, ocarina, sundry drums, percussives, keyboard, guitar, mandola, hurdy gurdy, violin, oboe, mandolin, uilleann pipes and two types of flute. Think about it. Oh yes, and the bagpipes are the Spanish type, the gaeta, with its charming, somewhat Gallic overtones, like a cornemeuse. So when we say an eclectic mix we ain't just whistlin' Dixie, though one wouldn't be surprised if that song's on their next release....

Anyhow, the talented gents are Nando Casal, Rodrigo Romani, Moncho Garcia, Aton Seoane, a guy called only Harry C on the liner notes who plays a mean violin and two Xoses (no waiting...), Xose V. Ferreiros and Xose A. F. Mendez. Several of these men are mentioned on the liner notes of another brilliant Galacian artist, Susana Seivane. They are, in particular, Rodrigo Romani, who produced Susana's debut CD, Nando Casal and Xose Ferreiros.

Here is the Galacian revivalist movement at its finest. This is the band that gave birth to the movement to a great extent. Hear the charming harmonies of pipes and fiddle in another traditional tune, "Carballesas," and you will know why no matter what the country, the Celts were a tribe. There is simply very little but just enough difference in the music of Ireland and other Celts (Gaels, Picts, Britons, what have you) to allow one or the other to lay claim to what really is a common heritage.

Hear it. "Estrelina do Luceiro" features the voice of Olga Cerpa, sounding quite like an ethereal cross between wispy Astrud Gilberto of "Girl from Ipanema" fame and Enya. Ana Belen also provides vocals on the album.

Want gaiety, esprit and folk charm? Hear, hear, ye, the pipes in harmony on "Polca da Mahia." Know then that the polka not merely swept Europe off its feet in dance; it made love to it.

I will leave the rest to your imagination, but let it be said , in closing that we have not heard the last of the Celtic revivalists, whether in Bretagne, Eastern Europe or Spain. Thanks be -- there is more to come. And from the sound of Milladoiro -- you ain't hear nothin' yet.

[ by John Cross ]
Rambles: 15 September 2001

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