New Zealand imprint Strangelove Music is three into a one-a-year-streak of reinvigorating, repurposing and reissuing pop music from the outer-reaches. Following the Portuguese new wave of Lena D’Agua and Australia synth-boogie of Arvo comes a new collection of work from Frank Harris and Maria Marquez.
The former is an American-born musician, producer, engineer and a leading expert at programming the Synclavier, an early digital synthesizer. In the 80s, while becoming absorbed in the rapidly emerging world of midi electronics, he collaborated with Venezuelan singer Maria Marquez, blending her folkloric visions with his custom synth station into a South American equivalent of Sade.
Their 1987 EP, A Minor Mode, has become a Discogs diamond while the leading track ‘Loveroom’ has been given fresh life recently by Hunee. The latter also features Echoes, a collection of their best released and unreleased work by Stangelove captain Ben Stevens.
Translating to ‘The Milking Song’, ‘Tonada De Ordeño’ it is a lament about life on the plains of Venezuela. The tonada, Maria tells us, is a Vanezuelan musical style based on chores in certain parts of the country. Each chore has its own song and ‘Tonada De Ordeño’ accompanies the milking of cows, combining haunting melodies with poetic, improvised lyrics.
Echoes LP is out 29th March – buy from Bandcamp. Read Maria’s rough translation and explanation to the lyrics below.
Dark and scary night give me some clearing so I can trace the steps of my loved one, the ungrateful one who left me.
Tomorrow morning cover your patio with flowers, the Virgin of Sorrow will come and visit you.
Little carnation, [3 more times] [this is a cow name CLAVELITO – the peasants call the cows by it’s name and she comes to be milked, while they milk they start singing with the hope that it will relax her and will give better milk]
Morning Star [another name] clear starlight of the day, why didn’t you wake me up if my loved one was leaving,
Butterfly, [another cow name, 4 times]
Up there on that hill, I have a clear water pond, where the Virgin washes her little feet and her face
Rain cloud [another cow name, 3 times]