Rúben Monteiro is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer which places himself within an uncommonly wide range of musical genres. His current projects swing from Dukha’s prog rock to Dorahoag’s Mediterranean music, including also in this sonic path Albaluna’s medieval and folk rock, as well as Rainforest’s fusion.
Since the beginning has he been connected to stringed instruments, having started his musical education at Luis António Maldonado Rodrigues School, in his hometown Torres Vedras. He started off with piano lessons and afterwards completed the Music Conservatory’s Fifth Degree on classical guitar.
A Heavy Start...
In 2000 he founds the rock band Alluminia, in which he plays electric guitar. Throughout roughly a decade the group finds its way in the hard rock and heavy metal scenes, publishing the extended plays “After Hate” (in 2003) and “Shaky Existence” (in 2005), a split EP with Lisbon-based band In Pectus called “Dangerous Loudness” (in 2006), and the album “POST” in 2007. All of these had Rúben Monteiro as an active composer.
Musical formation goes on with the guitar virtuoso Gonçalo Pereira, with whom Rúben improved his lead guitarist technique for two years.
With Alluminia Rúben develops a stage behaviour which blends ferocity with sensibility, and will later represent a much relevant trait on all his projects. As a support band Alluminia share the stage with Blind Zero, Cool Hipnoise, Yellow W Van, Twenty Inch Burial and Primitive Reason.
Foto de Mário Vasa
From Metal to the World Music...
In 2008, as Alluminia call a halt to their own activities, new musical paths are to be roamed. The electric guitar is replaced by the acoustic, the double bass drums are switched to more traditional drums. The extended play “Inner” is released by Rainforest, a solo project which represents a folk rock voyage through the jungles wherefrom the tribal influence came. Rainforest would be a first flee into the dominions of world music and, in that sense, a journey without return.
Rainforest may have been a sort of first escape from rock into world music, but the next project, Midgard, is the name of the next milestone in this long road.
Influenced by the discovery of Rainforest’s tribal sounds and inspired by a recently finished degree on Archaeology at Nova University of Lisbon, Rúben focuses on making medieval folk music. Midgard play across many medieval markets and fairs in their country in 2008 and 2009, releasing the EP “Folk Medicin” during the days of 2009. In 2010 the band evolves from a “street band” to a more solid musical project, now two-faced. The street animation act remains, whereas a new stage incarnation arises. Original compositions are now gaining relevance in this band.
This transformation becomes so profound the project decides to change its name to mark this metamorphosis. It becomes, thus, Albaluna.
Albaluna soon find a place in the sun on Portugal’s historical medieval reenactments market in towns as Óbidos, Santa Maria da Feira, Silves, etc. In 2009 the band crosses the borders to play in “Viaggio nel Medioevo” in Finale, Italy. The raids into European middle ages continue in the following years.
The medieval nostalgia and the traditional music influences are immortalized on the 2011 and 2012 extended plays, respectively “D’antes” and “Marca Antiga”.
In the meantime the compositions for Rainforest resume and the project is taken closer to the boundaries between folk and metal. In that odd place in which Rainforest’s tribal music meets Alluminia’s metal heritage a new band is born, in the year of 2011: Dukha, presented before an audience with the EP “Parallel Universe” (2012).
The first experiences in the World Music brought fruits and in 2012 Ruben is invited to form Mu, a a band with a big statement in the World Music scene in Portugal. With MU he was present at numerous festivals such as World Music Festival from Sines, Portugal, Penang in Malasia and in India.
Between 2011 and 2013 new bands come along. On the one hand they represent new raids into parallel universes which roam from traditional to heavy music; and on the other hand they are complementary projects which derive from a common site and pattern connected to sonic explorations and the finding of the immense possibilities within the stringed instruments’ family.
While new instruments pass through Rúben’s hands, he discovers as well as invents a use for each one of them. The Irish bouzouki appears on almost every project of his creation; the electric guitar stays intimate to the heavy sounds of Dukha; and the Afghan rubab comes up as protagonist in some projects, while on the contrary plays a smaller role in others.
The research on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern traditions brings the rubab, the saz bağlama and the Turkish oud. These altogether “force” the creation of a new project, in 2013: Dorahoag. In the year of its own dawn as a musical group the EP “Esperanto” is released and presented to the whole country.
Efrén Lopez is probably “found guilty” for the birth and development of Dorahoag. The Spanish musician is a worldwide reference concerning the Afghan rubab and the saz bağlama, and becomes Rúben’s main influence in Mediterranean music. Even more than that, Efrén is now Rúben’s teacher, with whom the latter develops his modal composing and playing techniques, so intimately bound to the Middle East.
A Year of Contrasts...
As new projects and different instruments fall into a big sonic cauldron, some ideas are left out of the records. “JAV”, a 2014 album, gathers some of those compositions and it’s released as a solo work by Rúben Monteiro.
After a long hiatus, Rainforest makes its comeback with the record “Gawtsha”, very different from the original work and which reflects the influences of all the other bands, embraced in his own and first personal project.
In the same year “Alvorada da Lua” comes out, the long-awaited album by Albaluna, now a regular presence in the best medieval and historical reenactment fairs. Curiously, they assume a double personality, since they present both a street and a stage act. It’s easy to find them as jongleurs in a 12th century market in one day and hear their mix of ballads, classical crossover, traditional and instrumental compositions in a theatre, in the next day.
With Albaluna’s release they focus all the atettention on the stage show.
The opening of the year of 2015 brings Dukha’s second work, “The Sunset and the Slave”.
Out of the artistic group Musicálareira a new project is born. Completely different from those referred before, Yanan Dans blends world music with performance, putting on stage aerial silks, fire juggling and a fusion of sounds from all over the globe.
In 2015 the first Dorahoag full-length album is released: “Silk Road”. It is shown publicly in a locally radiobroadcasted concert in Torres Vedras.
Before the end of the year the Mediterranean music endeavour completes a curious cycle. In a memorable show in Torres Vedras’ theatre, Dorahoag share the stage with Efrén Lopez and Miriam Encinas. The disciple finally presented himself publicly with his master, a big reference regarding this music genre.
A World Without End...
Tradition tells us a biography, whether written in a dozen paragraphs or expanded into a whole book, requires an author who knows well what he’s talking about, someone who knows the biographic subject. For this reason, biographies are rarely unbiased, for they let the admiration (or the lack of it) and all those feelings which are hard to smother as we talk of a close person show through the words. I tried to keep the necessary distance to describe you Rúben’s admirable journey. I hope to have done it properly…
Through all these years I accompanied his endeavour from a close distance. I had the pleasure to share his conquests and (those fortunately scarce) defeats. I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Rúben as Alluminia’s drummer, of photographing most of the projects hereby mentioned and, as the biggest privilege of all, to be his longtime friend.
I saw him play so many different instruments and music genres, I watched him create bands and compose soundtracks for shows and short films. I regarded a notable trail, which I compare to a long voyage.
A voyage which encountered the most remote centuries, in diverse places such as Poland, Lithuania, Germany, Spain, Italy, India and Malaysia; on stages which swing from Óbidos Medieval Market’s jousting fields to Casa da Música do Porto; in such differently (and in a certain way so close) genres as metal and Mediterranean music…
As a friend and closest member of his audience, I await with curiosity each and every new course, every mile of the path.
Text: Pedro Fortunato, 2015 - Torres Vedras
Trans: Christian Marr's