Silvia Calado. Valencia, 28th October 2005
Translation: Gary Cook

From an old warehouse in the dockyards, to a new space for the culture of the vanguard. Heineken Greenspace is born making history. As part of its inaugural show it's spawned an unprecedented encounter, that of Granada-born cantaor Enrique Morente with New York punk outfit Sonic Youth. They shared a ‘Martinete’. Just one track. Ten minutes of history.

Enrique Morente
(Photo: Daniel Muñoz)

Enrique Morente with Sonic Youth
(Photo: Daniel Muñoz)


The hypnotic compás of the martinete served as the backdrop for a veritable clash of the Titans. The vocalist let the first ‘quejíos’ rip. The electric instruments started, little by little, to make their entrance at an indeterminate point in the dense air of the warehouse. The flamenco artists led the way. And the sounds of Sonic Youth gradually fell into line, giving an unexpected dimension to the cante from the seguiriya family. ‘Omega’ is left way behind, minor by comparison. This is a new level of quality, a new texture, a new galaxy. The vocals, the rhythmical compás, the ‘loop’ of Niño Josele's flamenco guitar, the rudimentary drums played by Bandolero... all held fast against of the growing ‘tsunami’ of sound from the New Yorkers. Music that churns your insides. The lyrics don't matter any more. Ah. Ah. Ah-ah-ah-ah. Ah. The vocalist from the barrio of Albaicín is on his feet, charging headlong into the affray. The encounter has now attained a trance-like quality. According to the clock, only about ten minutes have passed... but in the senses of the three thousand people that fill the old building, time has ceased to exist.

The audience calls for more but, for the time being, this is the only fruit borne by this idiosyncratic relationship forged from chance meetings at venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Primavera Sound Festival. The curtain call consists of the embraces between the flamencos and the post-punks, who show what seems to be disbelief at having managed to steer their intuitive understanding toward a successful joint project. In fact, guitarist Thurston Moore was heard backstage saying that what most surprised him is that a prestigious veteran cantaor like Enrique Morente could like Sonic Youth.

Evidently he isn't faking it. The Granada-born vocalist was following the band's entire concert from the wings. And a vibrant demonstration it was of the quintet's permanent experimentation, something that's been niggling away at exponents of modern music for the past twenty-five years. Following a Formula 1-style change of set, and without time for an anesthetic, the flamenco formation stepped out on stage. Enrique Morente quickly brought silence to the crowd with a round of martinetes, with those phantasmagorical overtones that he's made his trademark. It sends a shiver down your spine to think that an indie audience could pulsate to sounds that are the essence of the flamenco arts. There were no shortage of whistles and jaleos of encouragement for the maestro. The audience demands silence from the audience... to listen. Enrique Morente and company understand the difficulty presented by the vast open space and opt for a more upbeat repertoire, for the time being - por alegrías of the most traditional variety. The vocalist is inspired and sings Lorca's verses of ‘La guitarra’ with a relaxed, confident voice, to the tune of an extended cabal. And then, without pausing for breath, the formation dives headlong into tangos, as one. The creative voice, giving rise to fresh melodies with a timeless ring. And finally, ‘Omega’. Many of those present expected to hear those first chords of ‘La aurora de Nueva York’. His voice rises to the occasion, lets rip, takes on an edge of rock. The acoustic band takes on an electric attitude to play ‘Manhattan’... just as amazing as it was ten years ago. The audience sings along to a ‘flamenco-ized’ treatment of Leonard Cohen. And in the wake of the ecstasy, he returns to the starting point, back to the roots, with tonás featuring the voices of Pepe Luis Carmona and Ángel Gabarre. A coro of voices in unison, gathered in a circle. Fingers snap. Hands clap. Voices wail. And it was then that Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Kim Gordon, Steve Shelley and Jim O’Rourke stepped out on stage. Thus was born ‘flamencopunkrock’.

Kim Gordon on Heineken Greenspace
(Photo: Daniel Muñoz)


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