There is a unique pleasure in listening to music in an unfamiliar language. While much meaning is lost, there are nuances in the sounds that would be forsaken if one could translate every word. For those unfamiliar with Portuguese, listening to Faluas Do Tejo
provides an acute example of this contradictory experience.
This deceptively simple album from Madredeus aches with an exquisiteness derived from the interplay between Teresa Salgueiro's vocals; Pedro Ayres Magalhaes and Jose Peixoto's blended guitars, which float and weave with a wisdom steeped in tradition; Carlos Maria Trindade's warm, articulate synthesizer; and the refined rhythmic pulse of Fernando Judice's acoustic bass. Encased by the haunting music of her bandmates, Salgueiro transports listeners into a world infused with equal parts beauty and sadness. This melancholic combination is described in the album's liner notes as the distinctive heart of fado: the musical form upon which many of the tunes are based. For those unfamiliar with fado, the notes explain that the key term to understand it is saudade, an untranslatable word capturing a sense of "bittersweet longing.
Those who have encountered the Japanese term "mono no aware" may find similarities between the two concepts, in both their purported cultural specificity and their ineffable combination of beauty, suffering, longing, and meaning. Of course, both terms refer to a sense that must be experienced first-hand, and Faluas Do Tejo
offers an excellent opportunity to discover something new and enjoy an experience of fado that is not easily forgotten.
Almost operatic in its emotive, dramatic, and narrative scale, Faluas Do Tejo
is a sublime journey into a classic musical form bound to seduce initiates and gratify devotees.
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Personnel: Teresa Salgueiro: vocals; Pedro Ayres Magalhaes: guitar; Jose Peixoto: guitar; Carlos Maria
Trindade: synthesizers; Fernando Judice: acoustic bass.