Terrakota

 

 

 

 

If one says Lisbon, one thinks fado. Well, think again because here comes Terrakota, the leaders of the worldfusion scène that is developing in Lisbon. Terrakota and tens of young bands form the upand- coming ‘musica mestiça’ scène are coming along with the rising cultural diversity influenced by immigrant populations, and musicians, from the ancient Portuguese colonies Angola, Cape Verde, Brazil, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique. Lisbon is changing. The ‘cidade do fado’ is being more and more open and multicultural, and no one better represents that cultural diversity than Terrakota. Terrakota was born in 1999 after a three month journey in West Africa that brought Junior, Alex and Humberto to a small neighbourhood of griot musicians and dancers in the town of Bobodioulasso, Burkina Faso. Everything was there: the vibrant colour of terracotta, the houses, the roads, the earth… Back in Lisbon, they recorded a demo and added three musicians: Davide, a drummer, Francesco, an Italian bass player, and Romi, an Angolan singer and dancer with tremendous potential. Right away the band made a big impact on the musical scene in Lisbon. They managed to organize and produce their own concerts in the culturally small-minded Portuguese capital. The obstacles to face where numerous, but the band’s live power and energy captivated the public’s attention, winning the respect of the public. A new musical seed had been planted, in fertile African ground, bathed in Jamaican, Arab, Brazilian and Indian sunlight. Music without borders With a growing fan base and experience, the singers Romi and Junior became more and more confident on stage and were able to captivate the hearts of the crowds wherever they’d go. Every concert would attract a bigger audience, resulting in a musical celebration without borders. Next step in the development was the addition of percussionist Nata, who along with his fascination for percussion-instruments of the Black continent brought along his Caribbean, Brazilian and North African (gnawa) instruments, opening the way for a musically more mature sound. In 2001 they went off to Spain, France and Italy. Back in Portugal, they received various proposals from labels and agents. Convinced not to sign with a big agency or multinational, they released their first album “TERRAKOTA”(2002) with the independent editorial Zona Música. A deliberate decision to stay far away from all lobbies and to do everything their own way. The album had a major impact and took the band on tour all over Europe during the next two summers. Their amazing power and positive energy was wildly received by the audiences of summer festivals, giving the band the opportunity to travel through new musical landscapes, expanding their borders, both physically and spiritually. The show got richer and new ideas came up, resulting in their second album “HUMUS SAPIENS” which was recorded in March 2004 at Youssou N’Dour’s Xippi Studios in Dakar, Senegal. A new maturity resulted in a clearly recognisable Terrakota sound. With more balanced lyrics in ten different languages and dialects. The albums took them back on tour all over Europe, playing for many different audiences, from big festivals to little villages, learning the tricks of the trade and meeting many musicians and positive people. Whenever possible, the musicians also took their time to travel to places far away, recharging their batteries and searching for new sounds, new musical expressions, new smells and feelings. In ten years time, they travelled through Burkina Faso, India, Senegal, Cuba, Guinea, Brazil, Mali, Argentina, Turkey, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Mozambique and Mexico. Breakthrough In 2007 their completely self-produced third album “OBA TRAIN” saw the light, distributed worldwide by Felmay from Italy. On this album, Terrakota’s musical vibrations makes us travel the world insistently, even trying to make it turn the other way around. Sliding on the trails of life, the Oba Train points the finger but also drinks the joy and happiness of people, never stopping, not even for the border controls. “Oba Train” was unanimously considered Terrakota’s best album because the sound and energy get so close to their live power and the positive feeling they irradiate during concerts. The album took them on a powerful ‘Oba Train tour’ through Europe’s biggest summer festivals, including Etnosur, BAM/Festas de la Mercè, Cuilla de Cultures and En Vivo (Spain), Couleur Café, Sfinks, Esperanzah and Polé Polé (Belgium), Festival du Bout du Monde (France), Exit Festival (Serbia), Amsterdam Roots (Holland), becoming one of Europe’s leading worldfusion bands. The video clip of the single ‘É Verdade?’ (Is it real?) won the MTV Music Video Awards in Portugal and the Special Prize of the Vimus International Music Video Festival. A great victory for a militant song about media manipulation and how the crowds are falling asleep while watching the news on TV, news that in reality is just there to deviate the people’s attention from serious topics. Indian flavour In 2008, a new member was incorporated into the family, Marc from Catalonia, who plays sitar, oud (Arabic lute), shekere and keyboards, adding a new dimension to their already wide musical horizons. One of those horizons was India, where Marc had been extensively to learn to play the sitar, and just when the band was composing a new reggae on a traditional raga, the Ladakh Confluence called to invite Terrakota to perform at the rooftop of the world: the Himalayas. During a two-week travel in Delhi, the Himalayas and Rajasthan, the musicians took their time to bathe into the Indian culture and jam with local musicians, staying true to the band’s fundaments of soaking up new musical traditions by travelling. They recorded with the carnatic singers Mahesh Vinayakram and Bollywoodstar Vasundhara Das, and with the gipsy musicians of Rajasthan Roots in an improvised hotel room studio in the Poplar Ecoresort in Leh. In June 2010, Terrakota celebrated its 10th birthday with the avant-première of the documentary ‘On top of the world – Roadmovie of Terrakota in the Himalayas’ about the band’s adventures in India and with a big, three-hour long concert in Lisbon with a battery of guests. That same month, the bands first single of it’s upcoming fourth album came out, ‘World Massala’, a first product of the band’s trip to India. The single is a groundbreaking musical fusion that might never have been done before: Punjabi afro-reggae. Bridging the gap between India and Jamaica, but also between Rajasthani folk and classical India. While the gypsy musicians of Rajasthan Roots take care of the rhythm and give the song some authentic gypsy guts, the carnatic singers Mahesh Vinyakram and Bollywood-star Vasundhara Das take the song to new mystical heights. The single announced the arrival of the fourth studio album, “WORLD MASSALA” (2010), recorded and produced and released in October 2010 by Ojo Música/Galileo Music Communication. On this new work, Terrakota keeps on mashing up frontiers to bring together music and people from around the world, expanding their musical horizons to Rajasthan, Angola, classical India, urban Cuba, and beyond. Terrakota’s Afro/world mestizo explosion now also has a proper term: world massala! World standing for world music and massala for the fusion, as massala is a mixture of species used a lot in Indian cuisine. The recipe? Bringing new innovative musical fusions without any fear of experiment, just jamming until you find a formula where ancient musical traditions embrace the 21st century. Other than the Indian guests, the album includes recordings with the Angolan singer-songwriter Paulo Flores, the Cuban rapper Kumar and keyboard, bass and brass from the Lisbon-based funkband Cool Hipnoise. Maturity On “World Massala”, once again the masters of Afro-Lisboa fusão have used a broad palette of colours to paint a world without borders, masterfully recorded and mixed by Lisbon’s Afro-scene producer Bruno ‘Beat Laden’ Lobato. Whether it’s mbalax, funana, samba, reggae, Afro-Cuba, gnawa, afrobeat, desert blues, batuque, flamenco, maracatu, rap or chimurenga, Terrakota intermingles it with ease in its world massala. The album entered straight at number 3 of the World Music Charts Europe and 2010 ended on a high note: the band was nominated as one of the four best bands of 2010 by Songlines, the world’s most influential world music magazine. In the spring of 2011, the band released the second single of its fourth album: ‘Slow Food’, a powerful afrobeat with a message, telling people to stop eating all that junk food and turn to ‘slow food’ – vegetables, healthy stuff. Terrakota making afrobeat shouldn’t surprise as the band has an afrobeat side-project, the KotaCool Afrobeat Orchestra, that has done some powerful gigs around Lisbon in 2009 and 2010. It’s no secret that Terrakota is a live band with one of the most energetic shows of the world music scene. Now, with this fourth recording, Terrakota has reached its tremendous potential in the studio too. The band has found a new maturity, making a more balanced studio album that doesn’t only show Terrakota’s explosiveness but also some calmer, acoustic songs. An exceptional album that should bring the band to new horizons, taking their music to even wider audiences and spreading their message of changing the world into a more positive, equal and balanced planet, where an optimistic and vibrant humanity can exist in harmony, TOGETHER.

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