LARA BELLO Releases New Album "Sikame" (Inside the Gold) via
A World of Sounds, from Islamic Spain to Modern Africa and New York
City, in 11 Songs;
Guest Artists include Richard Bona, Lionel Loueke, Gil Goldstein,
CD featured on NPR Alt.Latino's Spring Music Picks
LARA BELLO - "Sikame" tour schedule 2018
Feb 22 NPR Studios, Wash DC Tiny Desk Concert (taping)
".'Sikame' draws on flamenco, Latin American folk and North African
music, often landing somewhere between lament and reverie. Think
Buika and Joanna Newsome at play together at a very high altitude."
- NEW YORK TIMES
Arriving at a time of often loud, high-pitched debate, Sikame,
the new recording by Spanish singer/ songwriter Lara Bello, makes a subtle but powerful statement
about borders and immigrants.
A collaboration between Spanish, African, American and Latin American
musicians, Sikame, a term from the Fon
language of Benin meaning "inside the gold," draws elements from pop, jazz, flamenco and Arabic and African music. It
features guitars, bass, flute and cello - but also a n'goni,
an ancient West African string instrument, played here by Leni Stern, a German-born jazz guitarist and long-time
student and performer of African music.
And while all songs have lyrics by Bello, she shares songwriting
credits on various tracks with keyboardist, arranger and producerGil Goldstein, Spanish bassistCarles Benavent, Benin-born guitaristLionel Loueke, Cameroonian bassistRichard Bona and the late Charlie Haden. All songs are in Spanish, but on two
songs Bello also sings some verses in English. She closes the recording
singing a line in Arabic, a nod to her roots in Granada, in Andalusia, Spain. Granada was the last
bastion of Al-Andalus, or Muslim Iberia, a territory
in which, for centuries, Christian, Jewish and Muslim cultures
includes no explicit political pronouncements. None are necessary.
"This is what happens in the real world. It's what happens in New
York," said Bello. "As musicians, we take on influences from everywhere
through the people we play."
Conversely, and even after living many years in New York, Bello
continues to reference in her work the sounds, stories and traditions
"That's why the closing track, "La Semilla" (The Seed) has that Arabic
influence," she said, her Spanish still carrying traces of the lilting
Andalusian accent. "I realize that I'm trying to recreate an Al-Andalus
in America. That's the mix of cultures. That's the only way cultures
evolve: blending, meeting and sharing with other cultures. That's the
way flamenco was born, that's the way jazz and so much of the music we
know today emerged."
The last line of "La Semilla," which closes the album, is sung in
Arabic. It mirrors the opening lines of the song, which are in Spanish:
"Little by little I plant my seed / which will bear fruit in this
desert / showing me a new life." The song, said Bello, is "about all
displaced people, not just Arabs. It's about those who, for whatever
reason, were forced to leave the places where they made their lives.
But they have also left a seed that will be forever a reminder of their
is Bello's third release. It follows her acclaimed 2009 debut,Niña Pez; and her 2012 Primero Amarillo Después Malva
("First Yellow Then Purple"), a mature reflection on themes of
life-and-death cycles, using an increasingly broad musical palette that
included elements from flamenco and jazz but also Middle Eastern and
Latin American music.
The new album has a "simpler, more open sound" than
her previous recording, she said. It features six tracks written
entirely by Bello and five collaborations, including the title track,
written by Loueke. Perhaps her most intriguing turn as lyricist for
other people's music is for Charlie Haden's "Our Spanish Love Song,"
which here takes on a tango flavor because of the accordion which in
Goldstein's hands evokes the sound of the typical bandoneon.
As for the overall sound of the recording, the African thread running
through Sikame was not something carefully pre-arranged, she
"It's not a recording of African music - but it has those colors, those
flavors, and its deep soul has that Flamenco-African root," explained
Bello. "It wasn't something planned. It's simply the result of the work
of and the interaction with the people playing in it. These are people
I know personally, friends, not just hired hands." She paused for a
moment and then continued.
"That notion of not wanting to mix with others because matters of skin
color or where they come from is not real. The world doesn't work that
NOTE ON ALBUM FORMAT
Sikame marks the launching of the new release format on Biophilia
The BiopholioT is a two-sided, 20-panel origami-inspired medium,
bursting with vibrant artwork and liner notes, each one made entirely
out of FSC-certified robust paper, hand-folded and printed using
plant-based inks. Found inside each BiopholioT is a unique code for the
listener to digitally download the music in hers/his preferred format
(high CD-quality, uncompressed WAV files, etc).
This innovative design caters to the environmentally conscious listener
who is aware of the harmful effects of plastics in the environment yet
feels that a digital download is just not enough.