Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Conosci Victor Jara? (or, A 25p Gamble)

Perhaps one of the best things about CDs is that, unlike DVDs, they don't use region codes. You can't buy a Pokémon boxset off US Amazon and expect it to work in your lousy limey DVD player, but you can go to see a folk group in Ireland or a jazz trio in Japan or a country singer in Texas and you can buy their CD and you can take it home and show everyone.

Not that that's how I came to own Consosci Victor Jara? by Daniele Sepe.

I actually bought a second-hand copy of this album from The Record Shop in Cardiff back in 2012. I had never heard of Daniele Sepe before, but I decided that the eye-catching artwork was just too colourful to pass up, especially given that they were only asking 25p for it.

Daniele Sepe, I discovered after returning home with my purchase, is an Italian musician who is "known internationally for interpreting protest songs from around the world" (thanks Wikipedia!) Not being much of a linguist, the messages of these protest songs were - and still are - somewhat lost on me, but hey, they certainly sound great. Zamba del Che is a particular highlight, building magnificently and culminating with a fabulously grandiose sax line.

Conosci Victor Jara? features a good mix of soft stuff and jazzier numbers, and even though the average track length is almost six minutes, it seldom drags. I must confess that La Historia Es Nuestra, y los Hacen los Pueblos tends to get me reaching for the skip button after a few minutes, but that's the only one, and in my defence it is just six minutes of spoken word. In Italian.

So even though I've no idea what Daniele's various guest vocalists are singing about on Conosci, that language barrier never stopped me loving bands like Sigur Rós and it's done little to compromise my appreciation of this guy's music. Incidentally, Victor Jara - the man for whom this album was named - was a Chilean man who was brutally murdered by his country's fascist military in 1973. He was, among other things, a musician, and he actually wrote several of the songs on this album, including the lovely Te Recuerdo Amanda.

To be honest, I 'm struggling to imagine an album so dull that I'd feel sour for having wasted twenty-five pence on it, but Conosci Victor Jara? was definitely worth that small investment. If you happen to spot that colourful CD cover sticking out of a box in your local second-hand shop, I'd strongly recommend that you give it a go.

Click here for another story of when I got some great music for mere pennies.

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