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The sensitivity of a voyage

Delicate, pure, sensitive. That is the way in which we could describe the music of Marta Cascales Alimbau, a Barcelona-born pianist and composer who has released her second album ‘Anoche’, under the New York record label of Sonder House. She presents her newest work after her first album ‘Light-House’ (Piano and Coffee Records, 2018) and a series of singles, among which Almost here (with more than one million streams in Spotify) is noteworthy.

‘Anoche’ (2002) comes after an artistic residence in Tokyo. It is not the first time that our protagonist goes through such an experience, which she says have enriched both her personal and professional life. She had previously been selected as an artist-in-residence in San Francisco and Florence. "Travelling and discovering new places in the world enriches my life so much, it gives me perspective. Also, being away from routine and that which I find familiar awakens so many new sensations in me; and all those experiences manifest themselves in my music somehow. Professionally speaking, I think it is very important to be connected to different places and having and international view. It can always open many doors."

This new album is the final product of the pianist's musical development throughout these past two years, after releasing her debut album in 2018. "I have been taking my time to experiment new ways of expressing myself through the piano for these past two years. I have been looking for my own particular way of making music, and among other things, I have learned that you just have to be brave and follow your intuition in order to achieve that," she tells us.

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"Each track has a story behind it, the majority of them were composed at night, at dusk or at dawn, with the spark of inspiration." That is how Cascales promoted the release of ‘Anoche’ (2020) on Instagram. "I realized that every track of the album had come to me in a very spontaneous way, in a moment of inspiration, and it is specially at those times of the day when you can find peace and quiet," she explains. While inspired by the most emotional experiences she has gone through, Cascales divides her composition process in two stages: "the first moment is when a melody or musical idea comes to me without thinking; something I like to call raw material. Then comes the second stage, a more technical one, in which I develop and build it up following a more conscious or rational application of my knowledge."

If we take a closer look to ‘Anoche’ (2020), we can see that it offers an ‘introspective view’ through it seven tracks. The album starts with ‘Lágrimas Negras’, melancholic and popular, and closes with ‘Anoche’, livelier and fresher. "’Lágrimas Negras’ is somehow the track which triggered the whole album, that is why I decided to make it the first one. Besides, I like that start very much, with a familiar feeling to it, but different at the same time. And ‘Anoche’ inevitably sounded to me as an end, so when I was deciding the track order, I saw very clearly that it had to be the one closing the album."

Some of the tracks are inspired by more personal moments for Cascales, as it is the case of ‘Vuelvo’, ‘Noche’ and ‘Vuelo’. However, we can find tracks on the album that have been inspired by other artistic works. ‘Lágrimas Negras’ is a reinterpretation of the classic bolero; ‘Contigo’ is inspired by the great song ‘Me Quedo Contigo’ from Los Chunguitos; or ‘Albura’, which has its inspiration in a tale by Julio Cortázar.

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"I have always known the song ‘Lágrimas Negras’, but it was thanks to Bebo Valdés and Diego El Cigala's album ‘Lágrimas Negras’ that I first wanted to transform it into a piano solo. I composed the track ‘Contigo’ after watching Rosalía perform ‘Me Quedo Contigo’ in the 2019 Goya Awards. I was really touched by it and that very night I composed ‘Contigo’, taking the lyrics of ‘Me Quedo Contigo’ and inventing new melodies. It was like an experiment, but I love that feeling when the piano seems to be kind of talking or singing. And ‘Albura’ is inspired by Cortázar's tale ‘Los limpiadores de estrellas’, which is about a society that had the idea of cleaning all the stars in the universe. They claimed that time had erased the stars' shine and they wanted to create the perfect sky (with all its stars clean), but after achieving so there was so much light in the universe that night had ceased to exist. Cortázar explains it incredibly well, I invite you to read the tale and then listen to the track. I hope you find the relationship between both."

If there is something we can highlight of Cascales' work besides the musical aspect, it is the visual one. It is remarkable the attention she pays to the aesthetic of everything she creates: singles' covers, posts on social media, her webpage. "The visual part is important for me because I think that my music is somehow like that, very visual, or that is at least how I feel it to be. I find it so interesting how music can be complemented by an image. Music is always the focus, but I like to think about the visual universe that accompanies it too; about the whole set. "

Her sister Carla, with whom she has been working for years, provides this aesthetical part: “Her implication comes very naturally. We have been working together for years, we have been a team since childhood, and I think that our sisterly bond and camaraderie can be felt in everything we do; it is very beautiful.” This time, Carla has created a glass sculpture specifically for the album, that can be seen not only on its cover but also on the ‘Vuelo’ videoclip. Marta tells us that sensations born out of the music are captured and made physical through the sculpture.

The videoclip in which the sculpture can be seen:

We ask her for the album’s live presentation, considering the present situation. “I cannot announce any dates yet. It was supposed to be at the end of May, but it has been postponed until after the end of summer. I will be giving updates on it through social media. I am very excited about the live presentation; all of this will come.”

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