LLUIS LLACH – Viatge a Itaca (1975)

Review by: Charly Saenz
Album assigned by: Roland Bruynesteyn

Well, this definitely ain’t my area of expertise (if I have any, this is not!), this is a songwriter album, Spanish but in Catalan, much in the vein of Joan Manuel Serrat. The surroundings are way important, as this was 1975, the last year of Franco in Spain, and well Lluis was not exactly a supporter of the government, with that Catalan singing and all. This belongs in a sacred category where only artists like Leon Gieco, Violeta Parra or Mercedes Sosa (or Serrat for the matter) are welcome.

“Itaca” is the tour de force, 15 minutes long and is the closer you can get to a prog rock vibe. At around 4:00 there is an evolution into a bigger sound, an orchestra slowly crawls in and the song becomes a little symphony, not unlike a tragic “Odessa” piece. It’s an interesting intermezzo that returns a little later, more prominent, with a majestic choral arrangement and unexpected electric guitar flourishes, Pink Floyd-Ummagumma like. But in the heart this is a great folk song, and in the end it all comes together and Lluis does his best singing out his lungs, and we end up with birds sounds and beach waves.

It’s a chant about travelling, freedom, about warriors, about wisdom.

“A forca de nits” a pretty lullaby-folk song gives way to “Escriu-me aviat”, my favourite song in the album, a staggering beautiful piano motif, full band, night mood, flute and the most intense piece of lyrics for an erotic love song:

Write soon,
don’t wait any longer
don’t let this anguish win me over
don’t turn loneliness
into my loyal companion

Write soon,
every word a gesture
every phrase a look
Write soon
and as much as you can
fill the emptiness
of words.

“Fins el Mai” is another love song with a great bass line:

I want all the fresh smell of your kiss
Feel the seconds of your heart beat.

“Abril 74” is a combat litany, that serves as a goodbye song, a loving cup for all the friends in the war, in case we all do make it back home:

Brothers, if you are searching for the springs of freedom,
with you I want to go
For enjoying them
I became a soldier.

This is an intense and meaningful album, musically dated (Thank God for that) except for the highlights, but enormous for its lyrics; this is a music tied to a time and a place and all the more important for that.
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Author: tomymostalas

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