What a delightful record! Mendrugo’s More Amor makes me think of moon-lit, alcohol-fueled campfire jams. Of lazy afternoons spent in an old house full of old instruments, various cats and dogs lying around, thrift store paintings on the crumbling walls, a hammock or two, and a spirit of easy-going creativity at all hours of the day and night.
More Amor is a multi-cultural affair, pairing Josephine Foster’s American folk background with the music from Andalusia courtesy of her husband Victor Herrero, members of his band and Spanish folk artist Lorena Alvarez, and the slightly subversive contributions of Japanese woodwind artist Taku, who also handled recording duties.
The crisp, somewhat lo-fi recording is so imminent and natural sounding, it seems to take you straight into a room in an old adobe house somewhere in the Andalusian hills, where wine and creativity flow as worlds meet and collide, meshing into something so unique and delightful as to convince the biggest cynic.
The opening Introit Calliope is a wacky live sound-collage built on a manic little flute figure and hectic mandolin strumming, reminiscent of Japanese experimental wizard ICHI.
Veludo is the first ‘proper’ song of the record and right away we’re drawn into Mendrugos’s musical world. String instruments ring out joyfully, a bass purrs along contentedly, voices harmonise blissfully. The result is something like a cross between Os Mutantes and an obscure 60s psych pop band with some lo-fi indie-folk thrown in for good measure.
La Breva sounds like an acoustic pastiche of 70s funk. Trust an infrequent grouping of international musicians to breathe some new life into that corniest of all musical clichés!
Atapuerquillo is a personal favourite, sounding most like an old Andalusian folk song, as male and female voices take turns and the song builds nicely as mandolin and bass gradually join in, all while some vague white noise in the background rumbles along. “Estrella Fugaz“ continues in the same vein but takes it down a notch, a wacky ballad with pleasantly warbling slide guitar adding to the musical fun.
Closer Te Adoro may be the prettiest of the bunch, its pleasant minimalism supporting beautiful singing and tasteful percussion. It’s reminiscent of a modern version of 60s easy listening vocal group the Sandpipers ( who scored a hit with their version of “Guantanamera”).
That seems as good a comparison as any for this beautiful collaboration between musicians from different cultures who share a deep love for their respective musical traditions and an irreverent, and irresistible, sense of fun. There should be more records made like this.
Mendrugo is Out Now on Fire Records.
Mendrugo: Victor Herrero – Jose Luis Herrero – Josephine Foster
and with the special participation of Taku & Lorena Alvarez.
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Andrija Tokic.
Josephine Foster Live Dates
08 Sep: Triskel Arts Centre, Cork, IE
09 Sep: Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, IE
10 Sep: Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, UK
13 Sep: The Albert, Brighton UK
14 Sep: The Lantern @ Coltson Hall, Bristol, UK
13 Nov: Le Guess Who Festival, Utrecht, Netherlands (Curated by Julia Holter)
Photo Credit: Harry Wheeler