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“Spice Road” – the story, Part III

March 28, 2010 by · No comments

Yoni Vidal

to be continued

photo: Patricia Bouquillon

Entiendo means “I understand” in Spanish, and is a homage to the passion of my life, the guitar. I didn’t “compose” this song; my guitar gave it to me. It’s like a present from god; another way to communicate. The particularity of this tune is the arpeggio which requires all five fingers of my right hand. Some one asked me once: “Why would you did you play an arpeggio in this way?”

I replied “Well, I have five fingers in each hand, no? Then why shouldn’t I use them?” I used two guitars to record this tune. For the arpeggio, Toni’s guitar (a Pedregosa) was perfect; that guitar has body and incredible bass. I played the melody with my own guitar. Robert came after to create with the “anklongs” (Indonesian percussions) and the pot what is a simple but beautiful mood. Close your eyes, listen, and imagine that at sunset you arrive to the beautiful site of Petra in Jordania after a long trip on horses …

Arabia (une composition de Yoni Vidal)

This was one of the pieces I composed first. I was looking for a nice groovy rumba with a bit of a funky sound. Like the others, first I did a demo, then after correction, I recorded the final drums, bass, keyboards, percussions and guitars. The first time that I listened to this track, it was nice but I noticed that something was missing. I had to add something more “world music” to this arrangement.

I thought about a male voice that would do some flamenco vocals just for the atmosphere. I knew just one person that would understand perfectly what I was looking for: Miguel Angel Garcia, a Spanish singer of the “MATADORS” which was my band in Asia for five years. Miguel was now the owner of a nice flamenco club in Brussels. I went one Sunday morning to his bar with a microphone and my digital recorder. He was tired because he sang and worked in his club until late the night before, but that wasn’t a problem for him. In 10 min, in one corner of the club, with one headset and a microphone, he gave his voice to my music. I composed it into my wonderful little Spanish village in Galicia, “MEZQUITA”.

The cd was finally mixed when Tony told me that we might have more of a chance to be on the radio if I could compose a nice, smooth song. My problem was how to insert a more commercial tune into a world music cd while respecting the idea of the guitar revisiting the ancient spice trade route… I found the solution in my memories. One of the biggest frustrations in my life was never to share the beautiful countries I’ve seen with the woman I loved. I would write lyrics around my story, my trips, discovering wonderful things but unfortunately, always alone.

Sitar for Indian atmosphere, even a nice and smooth bugle solo by my talented friend “Pierre Malempré;” I tried to put the ingredients to fit in the mood of the rest of the cd. Dino did a wonderful playing with his Rhodes piano. I also called Adrien Verderame, a very talented musician, who very kindly played drums and bass on the track. For the first time on the album I used three different types of guitar together: steel strings guitar, electric guitar and Spanish guitar. Sophie sang on the chorus and then finally, I recorded my voice. To add a bit of mystique to the song I added few sentences from a peaceful and positive Buddhist prayer at the end, before the Spanish guitar solo.

Arabia, Spice Road by Yoni Vidal – live, Rex Theater Wuppertal, 2007

Turkey is a fascinating country. Its story, its traditions, its food and of course its music. Turkey’s participation in the spice road’s history makes Turkey one of the most incredible countries I’ve ever been. I’ve been there several times and of course I also met musicians from there, such as Denis Chackar, a diplomat from the Turkish embassy in Singapore and also a great friend who piqued my curiosity by showing me bites of her culture.

One day, she gave me a cd from “Erkan Ogur,” an amazing Turkish guitar player and composer, that I would meet 2 years later in Rotterdam thanks to two other friends. One is Husna, a traditional “Ottoman” singer and her ex husband, Tan, singer, musician and composer. Husna sang the mid and final part in Turquoise with a kind of vocal improvisation that sounds like an instrument.

For the percussions, Siavach -the Iranian percussionist- created an interesting and rich atmosphere. this mystic fellow is the kind of man that goes to live with the touaregs in the middle of the desert just to learn how to play “darbuka” like them…. I must also give credit to Emilio the flamenco dancer teacher from the school “Los Mimbrales” in Brussels who very kindly accepted to play “castañuelas” on this track. Dino Palumbo played the Rhodes piano that we recorded in his nightclub “La Notte” one cold evening in Liège. I don’t play “saes” the Turkish guitar, so I tried to recreate that sound with a mixture of Spanish guitar and a mandolin. I’ve been several times to Turkey. What is certain is that I love that country: its music, its rich culture, its wonderful people.

Arabia is a song inspired by a woman: Noor. She was belly dancer and I meet her a longtime ago in Asia. I saw her in my dreams with her long red hair and her beautiful smile, dancing with her sexy costume to a beautiful music which I recorded the following morning. On the final version, at the beginning of the song, the Arabic feel is given first by Zora Thasi who is the mother of my talented friends from Morocco, “PANACHE CULTURE”, a reggae band. That charismatic, wonderful woman kindly lent a bit of sunshine with her voice to the intro and the middle section. I recorded her in the living room of her house in five minutes.

I didn’t give her any directions, she just started when she felt the urge and as far as I’m concerned it was perfect. Fabian Facci played the Arabic intro on his “trinity” keyboard, also from his house one nice spring afternoon. It only took the first take. He was very inspired. Maybe some of his cigarettes were boosted by some special mixture…Anyway, often the first impression is best so I kept it and I love it.

For the percussion I was looking for a genuine sound. Siavach the Iranian percussionist came with a lot of little instruments. The ground of my studio was looking like a mini market on a Sunday morning! Darbuka, bendir and miscellaneous little percussions were recorded to recreate a real Arabo-Andalousian sound. When I finally recorded my guitars, my head was spinning while I was playing. The excitement to hear what you create is great and the adrenaline high. The beautiful Noor was dancing in my head…may be one day she’ll hear it and dance to it. Who knows…?

”Spice road” is the result of five years work, a lot of joy, but also a lot of frustration, but among it all, a wonderful human adventure, a dream that comes true. It was long and hard work that I never could have achieved without the help of all my musician friends and my family which was always by my side at anytime, as well as Miguel Augusto who has always been there to share a lot of problems and of course a lot of solutions too! But among them, my thanks go to A.J. Richter my friend, my mentor and my co-producer who helped me and gave me the strength to do this enormous work. Things were much easier when we are working together Toni…

Today my goal is to promote my music, my shows and my cd. Check it out, I’ll try to bring it as far as possible, maybe close to you. It would be nice to meat each other…

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