Guadalupe Plata in Leeds
Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Sunday 9th June 2019, £12.50
"Guadalupe Plata" (2018/19) is, in the group's own words, a new attempt to go further and beyond, in our crusade for regression and the idea of creating our own personal Gris Gris - the record that dominated the tour van on their last tour of the UK. Our idea was to get closer to the ceremonial, the sacred and the ritual sounds of our country from one end to the other, the different folk musics, the music that is made in backyards with whatever instruments come to hand, or to accompany the various ritual fiestas that take place all over Spain - some deriving from or referring to Catholic rite, many clearly pre-christian, or unchristian. So we chose to delve into the sound of the wash tub as the main bass sound, a drum amplified by the minimum number of mics so that it would sound as natural as possible and an electric guitar plugged directly into an amplifier, no intermediaries that would disturb the peace in the monastery. We dared to add some new instruments to the mix in some songs, such as a bottle of anise, a beat-up bandurria and some sounds made by old doors, in order to add a little bit of flavour of deep Spain. All these rustic elements, an old harmony guitar, stinking of incense, bottles of anise, the omnipresent bass wash tub, the spectral sounding drums, are in stark contrast with the huge plasma screen tv where they plugged the Nintendo Switch during the recording recesses.
The record was written, recorded and mixed through 3 weeks and a half between April and July of 2018 in La Mina (Sevilla), unusually for Guadalupe Plata. Compared with the previous 4 albums, which just required 3 or 4 recording days, this new album took weeks. Mostly because it was written there, on the hoof, getting carried along in the moment. But also, the possibility of adding sounds, as the grinding doors, made the recording longer than expected. I remember, during the third week of recording, calling Mark Kitcatt, chief of Everlasting Records, to tell him that everything was going great but that we needed a couple of extra days. He asked if we thought we were My Bloody Valentine. I didn't quite understand but I laughed nervously. Just as well, on the 25th of July I got a text from the producer, Raúl Pérez, saying: I've neutered the last 10 arrangements Perico (guitars, voice) wanted to add. we just finished the album.
The final result is 12 songs where you can find the classic Guadalupe Plata sound but also their immersion into other wastelands such as corraleras, clueca, waltz and secret rhythms. there are also two remarkable homages: one to their patron saint, Screamin' Jay Hawkins ("Oigo Voces"), and the other to an old friend from Úbeda, "Corral", to whom at last they fulfill their promise of dedicating a song with the lyrics he suggested: Corral, corral, why do you scare girls? Don't know, don't know.
If we were to compare this new record with their previous album, at first sight, we could find a couple of common denominators: again, we recorded it at La Mina studios, even though we warned Raúl that we never record twice in the same studio; we ended up nostalgic for his swimming pool and the Cuban food served at the cantina where the studio is placed. Also, we returned to our connection with Chile, through Sebas Orellana from La Big Rabia leading an immersion into his country's folklore in Lo mataron, adaptation of a traditional song (El afuerino), that Roberto Parra (1921-1995, Violeta Parra's brother) made popular.
The cover, made by Paloma Almagro and Pedro De Dios, is an acrylic painting whose style is inspired in Mexican votive offerings (ofrendas votivas). In it, the band recall a visit to the Pantano del Tranco, the Tranco Swamp, in Jaén, to eat, celebrate the end of the recording and mastering sessions, and pass the afternoon of September the 12th with some friends, and the decisive help given by the patron Saint of Úbeda, the virgin Guadalupe, in preventing the theft of their instruments by some demons while the members of the band were out in the middle of the swamp, on a pedal boat excursion (the video accompanying the first single Corraleras de veneno, by the Mexican design studio Pneuma, goes deeper into this remarkable event).
I'd like to finish with the first conversation I had with Paco Luis Martos (bass, guitars) when we just got to La Mina, as typical of Guadalupe Plata as the other elements already detailed. So, Toni, Why have you come to the studio?, he asked. So you wouldn't ask me why I haven't, I told him.
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