The meeting of Mayte Martín, one of Spain’s most popular voices, with established nonconformist pianists Katia & Marielle Labéque is certainly an appetizing prospect. Mayte Martín is widely recognized as one of the most important flamenco voices of her generation as well as the most complete ‘cantaora’ whilst the Labéques’ have been guests of the most prestigious orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony and Dresden Staatskapelle as well as appearing on the stunning ‘B for Bang’ album that reworked the Beatles classics into avant-rock bombshells.
The pieces on ‘De Fuego y de Agua’ (Of Fire and Water) consist of original compositions which sit aside personal favorites in arrangements by the Grammy Award winning Catalan, Joan Albert Amargós. Throughout the album, rolling fields of jarring yet melodic piano provide a consistently enthralling backdrop, shifting delicately from introspective whispers to manic peaks. Martín’s deeply resonating flamenco vocals move in playful parallel to the varying intensity of instrumentation as her soft and tender singing accompanies restrained sprinklings of keys whilst more frenzied instrumentation calls for powerhouse vocals, the sheer authority of which suck listeners in like an inviting vacuum. The opener ‘Capricho por Bulerías’ sees this formula distilled into one track, a track that basks in a delightful fusion of highly charged angular key-prodding and gentle waltz-like melodies that serves to confuses yet enthrall listeners with its off-kilter execution.
Leaving the electrifying avant-garde key-work behind, gently arranged compositions such as ‘Soneto de Amor’, ‘Acaríciane por Dentro’ and ‘Las Morillas que me Enamoran’ provide a bastion of folky warmth and pseudo-meditative reflection. Elsewhere, the ability of the trio to inject a smoky and dark ambience into the soundscape gives this release an added edge. From the dreamy midnight avant-waltz of ‘Adela’ to the mischievously arranged yet emotionally charged ‘Inténtalo Encontrar’, ‘De Fuego y de Agua’ proves to be extremely versatile in its delivery. Towards the end of the album, ‘Sus Ojos se Cerraron’ especially delights as a ‘noirish’ Truffaut quality hangs romantically in the humid air. Darts of liquid treble keys are peppered about in a haphazard fashion whilst bass keys stomp commandingly to fully extract the emotional ambience and vibrant texture provided by the Piano.
With ‘De Fuego y de Agua’, the trio has created a body of work that takes cues from traditional pieces and have combined them with their own stylistically unique compositions to deliver a vivid and emotional collection of songs. The talent and capability of those involved is beyond reproach and each song wrings with an underlying emotional, an intangible romanticism that is as joyfully effervescent as it is dark. (KS)
For fans of: Leftfield, traditional Mediterranean folk