The Acetre sound is something of a folksy hybrid.
Martin Longley 2008
This Spanish nine-piece ensemble have released six albums since their debut in 1985, but the band first convened even earlier, back in 1976. Despite this, their UK profile remains very low indeed. Acetre live in the town of Olivenza, which is part of the Extremadura region, right next to Portugal. This accounts for a certain amount of dialect confusion, and some stray fado elements, but these are the least of their cultural collisions, as the Acetre sound is something of a folksy hybrid, hardly sounding Spanish at all, at least to these English ears. If it has any indigenous similarities, it's with the Galician traditional sound of the north-west, complete with pipes and accordions. The pieces are all traditional, but it's hard to discern their countries of origin, once they've been arranged by the multi-instrumentalist José Tomás Sousa.
Everything is thrown into the bulging pot, but the most problematic presence is an unstoppably metronomic drumkit beat that hammers all the players into a rigidly regimental folk-rock pogo which not even the addition of darabouka and djembe can derail. There only appear to be two singers, but they're overdub-crazy, creating a virtual mass that mostly sounds like a Bulgarian choir, but also has faint washes of the Sardinian, Corsican and Georgian traditions. As a bonus, there are added streaks of North African trancing and, most distressingly, North American pomp-rock. There are also a wide range of blown instruments, influenced by the fluting sound of Turkey and Armenia. Plus, fiddles, clarinet and gaita bagpipe. Ultimately, the production is so dense, and the beats so persistent, that there isn't much room for the ears to manoeuvre at all, especially considering that a large cast of guest players are also competing for space. If Acetre play any festival dates around these parts, we can expect a multitude of hippies in billowing skirts, doing their mystical dervish dances right in front of the speaker stacks...