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AAA Music | 25 June 2022

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AURELIO – Lándini

| On 04, Oct 2014


In the beginning was Andy Palacio. During the ‘80s and ‘90s, the Belizean artist spread the Garifuna message all around the world, popularising his native culture. Then, along the 2000s, Garifuna music became widely known; traditional songs and rhythms finally enjoyed their well-deserved celebrity. But, in 2008, the tragic death of Palacio almost arrested the process. Until a young artistic heir of the great musician kept the Garifuna’s music flame burning.

His name is Aurelio Martinez and, after a ten-year career, he has already risen as one of the loudest voices and most distinguished figures of the Central American region. In memory of Palacio, also his tutelary deity and mentor, he has already played next to artists like Orchestra Baobab and Youssou N’Dour, he has released three albums for Real World Records and, if this wouldn’t be enough to prove his stature, back in 2000s, he also became the first black person and arguably the first musician to be nominated as a member of the National Congress in Honduras.

Lándini, his latest studio effort, keeps up with the most traditional aspects of Aurelio’s figure: the ones linked, strictly tied to his Garifuna roots.

Lándini, which is also a Garifuna verb meaning ‘landing’, is a bright evocation of the artist origins, of his country customs and the folkways of his people. On this occasion, more than a direct tribute to Andy Palacio, it is the figure of Aurelio’s mother, Maria, which pervades the record. She has always been a direct inspiration for Aurelio. In addition, he has followed the path her mother never had the chance to carry on: becoming a musician.

Irawini‘ is probably the brightest example of this relationship, both familiar and artistic; the song was written by Aurelio’s mother and explains the sweet sensations she felt when she was listening to her son playing the guitar. Throughout the length of Lándini, Aurelio has also recovered the stories his mother collected and wrote during her life. That is why the album is a faithful cross-section, a mirror of the everyday events, the local characters and the peculiar traditions happening in the small village of Plaplaya on the Atlantic coast of Honduras.

Aurelio Martinez wears the clothes of the storyteller: a troubadour who narrates straightforward, but quintessential stories able to illustrate the traits of an entire community. Among them, the title tracks talks about the everyday struggles of the fishermen in Plaplaya. ‘Funa Tugudurugu’ expresses the troubles common to too many Garifuna women, who give birth during their young age. ‘Milaguru‘ narrates the dramatic sinking of a ferry happened in 1990, which killed all of the passengers on board. While ‘Durugubei Mani‘ is a traditional tune and a sort of denounce of the bad light in which the musicians are seen among the Garifuna society.

Lándini is an exemplary Garifuna opera not simply for the subjects touched, but also for the way they are set to music. As Aurelio explicitly explained during an interview: while on the previous album he “experimented and collaborated with other artists to reconnect what was lost between Africa and America, Lándini is purely Garifuna, the entire spirit of the music reflects the Garifuna experience“.

The album sounds indeed passionate but also tactful and introspective. It let itself loose with upbeat tempo, triumphs of percussions and wild traditional punta rhythms, but it is also able to slow down the pace, to become pensive and melancholic reflecting the bitter-sweet mood of the lyrics. Lándini is without a doubt manna for the Garifuna enthusiasts, but it is also a work which can introduce and explain the fascinating traditions of a still waiting and worth to be discovered culture.

Marco Canepari