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New compilation of MÚSICA LAIETANA - ZELESTE

Picap is launching a new compilation of Música Laietana - Zeleste with bands like Orquestra Mirasol, Secta Sònica, Barcelona Traction, Música Urbana, Iceberg, Pau Riba, Gato Pérez, Toti Soler among many others. Here we show you the  introduction text of the new compilation: 


portada_zelesteeHistory sometimes betrays us and is unfair with events that take place and mark a turning point in an art form. Sometimes, therefore, it is necessary to look back at the past and revise it. In the world of music, we could say that history has not fairly explained everything that happened in Barcelona during the seventies and which gave birth to a generation of unique musicians and interesting, innovative and avant-garde music of great importance. During the seventies, Barcelona was a small city living the final stages of Franco’s dictatorship, and the first political transition which was accompanied by an explosion of freedom, experimentation and creativity. The last few years of the sixties and the first few of the seventies were marked by the first wave of progressive rock which never really developed fully but that did create a breeding ground where various musicians and groups could shape a new musical universe. This whole movement came together with the creation of the venue Zeleste in Carrer Argenteria.

The founder and ideologist behind this venue was Victor Jou who, during a visit to London (in 1970), attended a Cream concert at the mythic Marquee and, impressed by the venue and everything he had experienced there, decided to open a venue in Barcelona which would offer all kinds of music and provide an outlet for everything that was going on in the city. Zeleste was a meeting place for all those artists and a place where they could play together. In the few years that the movement lasted, Zeleste created a management office, their own record label (Zeleste-Edigsa) and a music school. What’s more, the venue became renowned and was where most international artists performed.

But the most important thing, and what concerns us here, is the musical legacy that the Zeleste era left behind and which history seems to have forgotten, the so-called laietana music (música laietana).

We may ask ourselves what laietana music is and what it was reacting to. It is very difficult to find an all-encompassing definition. We can, however, try to find a few references and concepts which will help us get started.

First of all we should highlight what was happening on the international music scene at the end of the sixties and beginning of the seventies to see what influenced the musicians who were part of that underground Barcelona movement.

The release of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP by the Beatles was an important musical event which took place at the end of the sixties and marked a turning point.

When it went on sale, this work changed the concept of the LP and started an unprecedented revolution. It was a conceptual, avant-garde album which did away with the three minute limit for songs.

barclona_tractionnIn the world of electric rock, artists such as Jimmy Hendrix were also marking a shift in the history of music. Apart from them, there were others, like Bob Dylan....
The most significant influence on Barcelona’s musicians however came from the most experimental and innovative jazz musicians. In a Silent Way by Miles Davis was a starting point later followed by other works by Davis like Bitches Brew, bands like Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter’s Weather Report, the Return to Forever by Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock.

All of these musical gems and other influences like Soft Machine, Latin rhythms, Caribbean forms, certain elements of North African music and, naturally, Mediterranean sounds and the traditional Spanish and Catalan music, merged to create a new and different form of experimental music which came to be known as laietana music.

But it’s best to leave definitions behind and each of us enjoy this compilation and draw our own conclusions from it. Take your time to savour it little by little, get comfortable and let yourself be carried away by the sounds and melodies of this music collection.

author of the text: Àlex Gomez Font

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