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Madredeus: Ainda

German director Wim Wenders has proven himself to be one of cinema’s great idealists, and also one of its most diehard music fans. He was the one who put Ry Cooder’s plaintive slide guitar to poetic use in Paris, Texas and corralled a sampler of inventive musicians for Until the End of the World. While conjuring up the characteristically loose premise for his latest film, Lisbon Story, he fell in love with the Portuguese group Madredeus, and chose to use the group as an integral part of the film-on camera and in the soundtrack. The resulting soundtrack album, Ainda (EMI 7243 8 34068; 41:53), is fully expressive as a musical statement on its own, apart from the film. The delicate balance of folk-music simplicity and classical composure parallels that on the group’s first release in the U.S., O Espirito da Paz on Metro Blue-recorded at the same time as the nine tracks making up the soundtrack. The band seeks to embrace indigenous Portuguese musical values while ushering in the ’90s, a fragile task nicely done. The terrain is diverse: “Viagens Interditas” is as urbane and propulsive as “Alfama” is lustrously melancholy. Between reedy washes of accordion, nimble dual guitar lines, synth sprinklings, cello, and Teresa Salgueiro’s deceptively soft vocal approach, the band has a sound which is exotic, iconoclastic and romantic all at once.

Originally Published