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Real world records  in Worldwide
Real world records  on 2015-07-14


Aurelio : Lándini

Aurelio returns to his Garifuna roots with Lándini - a swaying, bittersweet homage to his beloved home and people. In original songs crafted with his mother Maria, as well as traditional tunes, Aurelio mixes upbeat, Latin rhythms with heartfelt melodies and sparkling instrumentation, and carries forth the torch for Honduras' indigenous Garifuna tradition.
 
A narrow spit of land arcs into the Caribbean off the coast of Honduras, where a dark-watered river flows into the sea. There, in Plaplaya - a small village without electricity - Garifuna songwriter, singer, and guitarist Aurelio Martinez first learned music at his mother’s knee.
 
At the end of the day, villagers would return in their boats to the river landing, setting aside work and gathering to hear paranda, the guitar-driven music of Garifuna troubadours who teased and taught, bemoaned and praised community life. Aurelio joined musical gatherings from a tender age, set atop a table by his uncles.
 
His childhood village has become a touchstone for Aurelio, a dedicated Garifuna cultural advocate and musical innovator. In original songs crafted by Aurelio and his mother Maria Martinez, as well as traditional tunes, he returns to the landing place that launched him with Lándini (“landing” in Garifuna), a swaying, bittersweet homage to his beloved home and people.


 
"I consider this album to be the sound of my Garifuna people. On the previous album [Laru Beya] we experimented and collaborated with other artists to reconnect what was lost between Africa and America. This album is purely Garifuna, and the entire spirit of the music reflects the Garifuna experience."
 
Aurelio may number among the last generations to grow up steeped in Garifuna traditions, which encompass the African and Caribbean Indian roots of his ancestors. These roots have great capacity for absorbing and transforming outside sounds and ideas. The very origins of the Garifuna lie in a wild, tragic tale of mixing, of cultures that hybridized to adapt and survive.
 
According to Garifuna oral history, the 17th-century wreck of a slave ship brought Africans to the island of St. Vincent, where they intermarried with the indigenous Kalínago and learned their language. Their descendants were forcibly deported to the Central American coast in the 18th century by British colonials. Along the way, the Garifuna absorbed French, English, and Spanish terms - which is why words like lándini sound so familiar - as well as a plethora of diverse sounds and customs.
 
"It's very common in Garifuna culture to incorporate the things that have surrounded us, all the different cultural contacts," notes Aurelio. "They have had an influence on Garifuna cultural development over the years."
 
Though it incorporates elements from a wide variety of sources, the heart of Garifuna music beats with very personal, deceptively simple tales. Aurelio credits his mother Maria, who dreamed of being a professional singer, with introducing him to the basics of Garifuna songcraft. Like many Garifuna, she composed her own songs based on community events and her personal experience, songs. She would teach the verse and chorus of the songs to her son, who would then build on the tale by adding another verse, in traditional Garifuna style.

Aurelio had set aside his music-making in 2005 to join the Honduran National Congress as its first member of African descent, and devoted himself to the preservation and promotion of Garifuna culture. But with the sudden, untimely passing of his fellow Garifuna musician and cultural ambassador Andy Palacio in 2008, Aurelio relinquished his political position and launched an international tribute tour in honour of his late friend.  
 
Global touring and exposure led to his selection for the Rolex mentoring project, with Youssou N'Dour as his mentor, and Aurelio subsequently spent much of his time on the road. But, on a visit with his mother Maria (who now resides in Brooklyn as well as Plaplaya, but remains deeply rooted in Garifuna culture), he joined her in singing very old paranda songs, and he realized the course he wanted to take for himself and his music.
 
"All the travel made me realize that my real strength as an artist, our real strength as a culture, lies in small Garifuna communities like my home village. The more I have traveled and seen the world, the more I have seen the need to reconnect with my roots…the farther I go, the more I want to come back."
 
"My mother is the sole inspiration for this album," says Aurelio. "My mother sees herself reflected in me, to a large degree - the only one of the family to fulfill her dream of singing professionally. She reminds me of songs, and will give me advice on music and the songs. She’s the best example I have in my life of what a human being should be, my main consultant and confidante."
 
Paranda is an old style of music, and the only type of Garifuna music played with the guitar. It's festive, and is sung in the villages during celebrations such as Christmas, when groups of men go from house to house all night long, singing the songs. There's a lot of Latin influence in the style, hence the guitar - which was introduced when the Garifunas arrived in Honduras in the 1700s.


The songs on Lándini are about Aurelio, his feelings, his family, and Garifuna life in general. They range from tragedies - such as "Milagrosa," about the sinking of a small ferry of the same name, when many Garifuna drowned - to originals by Aurelio’s mum, wherein she basically gives advice. Traditionally these songs are very short, sometimes with only a verse and chorus; for some, Maria Martinez would teach her son a verse from one of her compositions, and Aurelio would then write the subsequent verses to build the song. Most of the album's songs are originals by Maria and Aurelio; two or three are traditional songs that Aurelio has re-arranged.

One of the unique characteristics of Garifuna music is a kind of double reading; even though you don't understand the lyrics, you feel that there's something more in there.  There's a sadness, a melancholy throughout, but the rhythms remain really lively. It affects the body, the brain, and the soul in a way that is very unique to Garifuna music.  It always has a purpose, whether it's dancing or documenting a tragedy or just poking fun at someone; there is never a notion of "I'm going to make a song because I need to make a record" – such a concept does not even exist in Garifuna culture.


In recording Lándini, producer Ivan Duran, who hails from Belize and has dedicated most of his professional life to working with Garifuna artists, strove to accentuate the songs' double nature. Duran's touches are restrained and subtle, leaving the spotlight on Aurelio and his long-time band's delicate drive and passionate performances, on the sounds of the drums, voices, and guitars masterfully played by Guayo Cedeño.
 
Recorded at Stonetree Studio in Belize, the new album features the same musicians with whom Aurelio recorded Laru Beya - the same team he's worked with for almost 15 years. With Laru Beya, Aurelio spread his wings, whereas with Lándini he’s come right back to his roots, where it all began. It is a much more intimate record for him.
 
Aurelio is almost like a statesman; he is the only Garifuna artist today who is out there representing his culture and its music in the world.  He takes that responsibility very, very seriously, and he doesn't want to give up on his mission - because so very many people back home depend on him to be their voice.

"Very beautiful, very evocative." Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2
 
"It's a gorgeous release." Cerys Matthews, BBC Radio 6 Music
 
"Lándini is an elegant creation, its easy, swaying rhythms overlaid (at times contradicted) by Aurelio's impassioned vocals ... there's a ruminative, melancholic undertow throughout and some deft surf-guitar work. Smell the salt air." **** The Observer
 
"Lándini is a set of songs that could easily be played on a Honduran beach paradise around a campfire or at a party ... big memorable melodies."
9/10 Curious Animal

Honduran Garifuna musician Aurelio returns with his new album, 'Lándini', out now!

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