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Flamenco Forward

Marina's thrift-shop chic epitomises Barcelona's 21st century 'hippiedom,' which shares certain common points with the equivalent 1960s generation in its oppositional politics, based on ethical and moral concerns that today are anti-corporate; fighting the negative effects of global capitalism on the small community and individual within it. The music of Ojos de Brujo is embedded in the politics of everyday life, rooted in the belief of an equal and just society, the right to struggle for freedom and human rights, like a roof over your head and food.

Ojos De Brujo
We're talking at Womex, Essen, the day after I fell into their force-field of magnetic energy. Always a groupie manqué, there I was in an upstairs bar space with three of them (Marina, flamenco guitarist Ramón Giménez, and DJ Panko, a veteran of the Barcelona scene). Once they got started, just like on stage, they seized the moment to create, dipping and diving in and out of each others conversations, as if they knew intuitively when one of them could enhance what another had begun. Marina was the most loquacious, constantly encouraged to be so by Ramón and Panko.

So it's three out of how many - six, seven? "As many as can fit in a transit van," as it says on their debut disc Vengue. "There's always been a flow of people, never a fixed number of members," they continue. We talk about their new album Bari, but move on to discuss the titles of their albums which are both in calo, a Romani-flamenco-gypsy language. Vengue, for example, is a street word meaning duende or jaleo. While occasionally translated as 'soul,' it's actually more a state of mind, a transcendent moment of perception that can occur when a flamenco singer, guitarist or dancer sublimates themselves into the complexity of emotion they are seeking to express, taking you out of time with them. Their instincts, intuitions, emotional imagination and capabilities must be huge. It can't be manufactured. Bari it seems is in the same vein. You can't see it but it exists. Like duende it appears and disappears. It illuminates everything: strength, drive, courage like flamenco; essence and virtue like a child; wisdom like old people. You can't teach it but you can learn from it.

This feature first appeared in fRoots 237, March 2003


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