Israel Galván in concert
with David Lagos, Tomás de Perrate, Eloísa Cantón, Caracafé
and Proyecto Lorca (Juan Jiménez Alba and Antonio Moreno).
Everything is scrambled inside the whale
clocks stop under furniture.
We’ll try to be brief this time. We’ll try to get the point. The music, that’s the topic. The music that has sounded throughout Israel Galvan´s shows and now appears free of plots, scripts or theatre. Los zapatos rojos, La Metamorfosis, Galvánicas, Arena, El final de este estado de cosas, Lo Real-Le Réel-The Real… sounding without a story line, just followed by body´s inertia and rhythm. Nothing but music.
That was the goal, to lighten one of the most brilliant finding of Israel Galván’s performances: the sound. The thing came up in stages nearby Sevilla, in events related with charity and mortgages where Israel and a select group of his musicians recycled some audio tracks, offering brief outbreaks of happiness to the audience. We all know that Israel Galván is a machine and it sounds here in all its purity.
Just music! Music is one of the main characteristics of flamenco dance in general and Israel Galván´s dance in particular. The body is an instrument and it is not just percussion but also wind, brass and strings. Oh yes, the body speaks. If it twists in front of Elo Cantón’s violin, it sounds more like wood. If it stands facing David Lagos or Tomás de Perrate, it is more body, redundant. Caracafé es casi su gemelo, unas veces diestro y otras siniestro. Caracafé is almost his twin, sometimes right-handed and other sinister. And it is more flamenco when it stresses the percussions and brasses of Proyecto Lorca.
Israel Galván has always run away from fusion music, which is a strange music genre, lazy and obvious. Assembling elements is his forte, as in traditional flamenco, like editing film tapes. He knows how to compose with pieces and bits. Certainly he brings over different references: Tárrega does not appear in the rondeña but Ligeti, neither Albeniz opens the granaína but Luigi Nono. But the meaning is the same: flamenco music in its primitive status, still boiling before it started crystallizing into stones.
For that reason we can find out that the taranto gets related to the tarantella or that the tangos follow the path of rebetik, we find lyrics of Hugo Ball and music of Mauricio Sotelo in the toná, and verdiales by Anthony and the Johnsons. In this concert there is also a present given long time ago to Israel Galván by the great Enrique Morente. A definition about what he does and the way he does it: “I was stone and I lost my center / I was dropped to the sea / and a long time after / I found my center again”. These classic lyrics appear as soleá and malagueña, in a piece with drums of Lagartija Nick. Morente said that flamenco was about translating tradition, being conscious of the betrayal inherent in the process.
Israel Galván does not confuse game with lightness, combinatorics can also be a serious matter. That’s why when he reviews his career, when he tries to express how is it to live with all that music on your back, with so many body shapes, with that many sounds in your head, then he often uses the metaphor of the whale. Indeed, the white whale, the life of the artist, the creator, like Moby Dick, Leviathan, Job before being expelled to the beach. There is a poem (inside of the whale all is scrambled: furniture, books, watches) from flamenco singer Charo Martín, which perfectly expresses the healing qualities of that journey inside the whale. Israel Galván is both the whale and its broken inside, Captain Ahab catching it and the Leviathan engulfing them both.
In addition, Israel Galván invited on this occasion Patricia Caballero to help him manage gestures and times. That happened already in La edad de oro, a previous show: since it’s not a closed show, its own construction requests that in each performance things have to be tested, findings recovered, new elements introduced. It is a space of freedom in which Israel Galván remembers and rehearses the old and the new. Maybe you don’t know Patricia Caballeros’ dance, but her show Lo raro es que estamos vivos would make you understand very well Israel Galván’s choice. It is not about operating on words or things; it is about time management, a rare idea of time where chronological and atmospheric aspects are mixed.
It is often said that Israel Galván plays freely with the distinctive elements of flamenco. Too often people talked at the same time about deconstruction and constructivism. And there is some of that not only in Israel Galván but also in flamenco. Almost miraculously, a group of artists close to the margins of society knew how to join forgotten scores to Cuban rhythms, old melodies to melismas and jipíos, they merged African drums into different polytones, as it is called nowadays. Here you have one more sample. The order of syllables may have been changed, but it is still flamenco.