"What music is there left to discover in Portugal besides Fado?"
FolkHerbst | Plauen | Germany | 2018
The Rise of a Culture | Preface
Every landscape hides a history. Profound, veiled, and unique, created by a constant metamorphosis, in this ever-flowing river we call time. Bathed by a hope which has renewed itself each and every dawn, it comes to light as an overlap of all moments and lives that decided to be, in that place, a new detail in the landscape.
And, while mankind dominated chronological time and entertained itself compiling the narration of all eras into their chronicles, it did not notice that it was being dominated by a time ancient Greeks called kairós. Impossible to delimitate, subjective, and personal, offering each spatial plane an unparalleled character, as a thread behaving of its own accord in the great loom of life.
Thus arises, in every place, a singular culture, with specific traits, that absorbs every moment in which something or someone imposes itself. 218 BC and 711 AD may seem mere insignificant dates. However, amidst these and many more historical milestones, a cultural heritage, passed on from generation to generation, transformed itself, transcending and overlooking the frail political and religious boundaries. For culture is not conquerable, nor can it be annihilated in its entirety. Nonetheless, it mingles. It adapts.
Albaluna – A Crescent Moon | Biography
Albaluna, a six-piece Portuguese band founded in 2010, led by multi-instrumentalist and composer Ruben Monteiro, emerged from that fertile fusion of planes. The group dedicates itself to musical, historical and cultural research and to the creation and arrangement of musical pieces. Mainly original, these are highly inspired by the cultural continuum which unites the peoples around the Mediterranean Sea and the three cultures that define the civilisational heritage of the Iberian Peninsula.
The band presents a combination of many concepts and musical styles: Iberian traditional music blends with soundscapes coming from distant lands, such as the Balkans or the Middle East, not forgetting the African rhythms, North European folk, and progressive rock. Using as many antique instruments from various parts of the world as modern instruments, the six musicians present an energetic show, full of distinct musical aromas, embracing multiple genres, such as world music, prog rock and metal, folk, medieval music, and fusion.
At the end of 2010 Albaluna presented their first record D’Antes, produced by the band itself. Undoubtedly inspired by Iberian traditional and medieval repertoire, it was cemented throughout a whole season of historical reenactment acts.
In the summer of 2012, during the Medieval Fair of Óbidos, the EP Marca Antiga, composed by Ruben Monteiro and produced by himself and the bands' sound technician Tiago Gomes, came to life.
In 2014 they presented the entirely original full-length album Alvorada da Lua. The performance of the song “Anascer” won the international “Show of the Day” prize, attributed by Balcony TV.
July 2016 saw the release of their third album, entitled Nau dos Corvos. This record clearly demonstrates a shift in the band’s sound, carried out by member changes and knowledge acquisition. Thus Albaluna arrived to a safe haven, influenced by Turkish and Balkan music. The Nau dos Corvos tour reached multiple countries, including Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, and India.
To commemorate the first anniversary of that album the group released the EP Nau dos Corvos – Lado B, comprising prog metal and alternate versions of previously released songs. One of them, “Hija Mía”, features Helena Madeira, a Portuguese world music singer. This EP gave birth to a new and heavier version of the band, the “prog metal meets ethnic music” show.
The last year of the Nau dos Corvos tour (2018) stood out for its intensity and diversity concerning new stages. In October 2018 the band was involved in an Indian tour which lasted eighteen days. This journey across New Delhi, Kolkata, Tepantar and Kalimpong included many concerts and collaborations with Indian musicians.
In January 2019 Albaluna presented, at the Quimera Brewpub in Lisbon, the new single and music video. Gargull, the name of that song, marked the beginning of the band's new era, anticipating as well an original record and a brand-new tour covering India, Morocco, Germany, France, Spain, and China.
Albaluna’s performances at festivals, historical reenactment shows and street acts, on both national and international grounds, reveal an already vast and rich artistic course. These names stand out:
Montelago Celtic Festival (Italy, 2016), Udaipur World Music Festival (India, 2019), FolkHerbst - Malzhaus Plauen (Germany, 2018), International Ethnic Folklore Festival (India, 2018), Darjeeling Kalimpong Folk Festival (India, 2018), Fête du Roi de l'Oiseau (Le Puy-En-Velay, France, 2018), Pipes & Whistles Festival (Germany, 2016), Festa Medievale di Monteriggioni (Italy, 2016), Jornadas Medievales de Cortegana (Spain, 2015-2018), Mercado Medieval de Óbidos (Portugal, 2010-2018), Médiévales de Brie-Comte-Robert (France, 2017), Cine Incrível (Almada, Portugal, 2017, 2019), Festival do Caldo de Quintandona (Portugal, 2014), Memórias da História (Torres Novas, Portugal, 2016, 2017, 2018), Festa da História de Bragança (Portugal, 2014), Festival Terra Transmontana (Portugal, 2014), Teatro da Luz (Lisboa, Portugal, 2014), Festival Andanças (Castelo de Vide, Portugal, 2013), Feira Medieval de Silves (Portugal, 2010, 2011, 2016, 2017, 2018), Pópulos Music Festival (Caldas da Rainha, Portugal, 2013), Festival Salva a Terra (Salvaterra do Extremo, Portugal, 2013), Festival Geada (Miranda do Douro, Portugal, 2012), Festival do Pão (Mafra, Portugal, 2012), Festival 5 Elementos (Oeiras, Portugal, 2012), Entrudo Chocalheiro (Podence, Portugal, 2012) and Festival de Música Celta (Viana do Castelo, Portugal, 2011).
All Sides of the Moon | Concept
The band’s concept is based on a permanent dialogue between ancient and contemporary music. The timbres pertaining to antique instruments, such as the bagpipes, the hurdy-gurdy or the medieval vielle, blended with those of present-day instruments, such as the drums and the electric bass, allow a vast range of sound which work together for a common purpose.
Found in this constant duality, Albaluna offer many kinds of performances, which vary in their form and context. When acting in medieval reenactment events, the band travels in time to take the form of Middle Ages’ troubadours and jongleurs, playing instruments that fit in the historical context and ambiance of the shows. Outside the world of historical acts, Albaluna present the stage show Gargull, an intense concert, where the band’s own creativity and unending energy are the only existing limits. The performances may vary between an acoustic and intimate version, suitable for theatres and concert halls; and an otherwise electric show, appropriate for folk, rock, or generalist music festivals.
Following the Iberian cultural lineage determined by the fusion of Christian, Muslim and Jewish societies, Albaluna present an ensemble act, appropriate for places of worship (churches, synagogues, mosques), museums, theatres, among others. The historical and ethnocultural influences of the group revealed this chamber concert, which brings both oriental and occidental influences together.
This project embraces age-old traditions, profoundly engraved in the history of a culture which, albeit heterogeneous and separated by geographic, political, and religious frontiers, reveals common traits and habits.