wed 22/02/2017

CD: Aurelio - Darandi | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Aurelio - Darandi

CD: Aurelio - Darandi

Honduran Garifuna songwriter and surf guitar stylist revisits his career best

It's easy to sense a complicated emotional ebb and flow through the songs
'The tempos are fast, the percussion's complexity is giddy, but the songwriting is sophisticated'

It's a monstrous cliché – all too often laden with problematically patronising overtones – to describe African, Caribbean, or Afro-Latin music in terms of “sunshine”, with all the carefree holiday brochure imagery that brings. But damn, the music of the Garifuna people of the Caribbean coasts of Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua makes it hard not to.

In particular the Honduran Aurelio Martinez, the most prominent exponent of Garifuna music since the 2009 death of the Belizean star Andy Palacio, has a guitar style which combines the lilting arpeggios of West Africa with the tremolo-heavy twang of Hawaiian and surf rock styles, hitting so many Pavlovian buttons that you practically feel the sun on your face and smell salt spray as he plays. None of which is to say that this is in any way facile or simply cheery. The Garifuna have a rich and unique history – descended from shipwrecked slaves and the indigenous Carib tribes – which has led to music that sounds like nothing else in the area.

On this collection of songs from throughout Aurelio's long career, recorded afresh at Real World Studios, the tempos are fast, the percussion's complexity is giddy, but the songwriting is sophisticated and even through the language barrier, it's easy to sense a complicated emotional ebb and flow through the songs. It doesn't have quite the range of The Garifuna Women's Project album put together by Palacio, but it's still a brilliant piece of work. Cheerful it may be on the surface – sometimes blissfully so – but it also seems to reflect all of human life under the sun.

@joemuggs

Watch an introduction to Darandi

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