La Musgaña


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La Musgaña ("The Water Rat") is a folk group from Spain. Originally they hewed close to their traditional sources, but by the time this, their third album (and first U.S. release) was released they had added modern elements like a funky bass, a clarinet, and an accordion to the ensemble of bagpipe, hurdy-gurdy, cittern (small guitar), and other older instruments. The result is the same ideal mixture of heritage and innovation exhibited by that other great Spanish roots group, Radio Tarifa. But where Radio Tarifa is interested in the medieval-Arabic-flamenco side of Spanish music, La Musgaña is concerned with the music from the interior of Spain. Some of the songs are Galician -- Iberian Celtic -- and sound a bit like Ad Vielle Que Pourra. Others, like "Torrás Manchegas," are Castillian and must have gone over to the New World on the first ship because of their resemblance to traditional Mexican son jarocho. One song, "Romance de la Gallarda" featuring guest vocalist Javier Bergia, sounds surprisingly modern with its complex and haunting bass parts. Most of the numbers are instrumental, although a handful have vocals. The variety of instruments keeps things engaging, especially the percussion which includes tambourine, the modern snare drum, and its ancestor, the string drum. Throughout the album, La Musgaña combines buzzy, wheezy instruments to form a brew that is always engrossing and always fun. It's ear candy, but with the authenticity of music that has survived for centuries.

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