2001. Ritual

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Partice Leconte,
Film Director

"Mísia's hair trim, her fringe, is rather graphical. She also has gestures. Postures. Blacks and whites. Angles and curves. Fine and thick tines. This is why more than singing the Fado she actually designs the Fado." [+]


Ritual (2001)

Album Information

The ritual of meeting with her roots in the end determined its own rules. The essential was left: the tradition musical support and the reurn to the lyricists, but the indispensable link between the coherence of the project and its articulation with all the work beforehand was functioning. Creative breaks established themsleves, but the desire to invest new and modern feelings in the rich tradition inheritance was maintained.

Let's be clear: to return to the "orthodoxy" of singing with Portuguese, classical and bass guitars does not mean abdicating from the search for new sonorities, but indicates the necessary to ritualize song in an imaginary beginning of a journey, including marking, the end of a cycle and the beginning of another. However, to return to "pre-Amália" fado without exorcizing Amália's dominating presence would be an erroneous and unnatural ceremony. This the reason why, always with the distance of one who does not imitate a model, Mísia ritualizes the shadow of Amália in four different but complementary ways.

Firstly she again records "Lágrima" with a new intensity and internationality. Secondly, she sings the loss of Amália Rodrigues, in one of the strongest songs on the disc: se requested Carlos Gonçalves, who wrote the music for "Lágrima" and the great composer of the last phase of Amália career, to set to music Mário Cláudio's lovely poem "Xaile de Silêncio", sent to Mísia, in London, on the very day of Amália's death. The elegy ("what a shawl of silence you left us / what a strange way of living") gains strength in the voice's crescendo and the perfect modulation of the poetry ("the flight of the most perfect seagull"). The third element consists of revitalization. Mísia sings, in "Mistério Lunar", the music of Fado Mayer, by Armandinho, which Amália used to sing to words by Linhares Barbosa, here with words by another lyricist, João Monge, who clothes the music in strange contemporary resonances: "They say that there is / in our solitude / some hope or other / a lunar mystery." Lastly, Mísia sings a text by Amália in which the last of 13 songs on the disc (12+1?), "Vivendo sem Mim", to a melody by Mário Pacheco, and accompanied on the piano, evoking, in the exceptionality of the musical treatment, the way in which Amália used to rehearse at the piano, especially when she worked with Alain Oulman.

If "Lágrima" is a kind of "fetish" fado for Misia, who never denied that it was the fado responsible for her decision to become a fado singer (with the unmissable opportunity to revisit it accompanied by the composer himself), "Vivendo sem Mim" is the fado by Amália that never existed and that survives her in another voice, while "Mistério Lunar" recreates the classical repertoire and "Xaile de Silêncio" pays homage, still more as in a tone of celebration than of bereavement.

However, the ritual does not exhaust itself in this multiple idea that the modernity of Fado begins obrigatorily with Amália. "Desespero" sets a poem by Ary dos Santos, with music by Fado Zeca, and Misia underlines in the grain of her voice the violence of the text, making of the verse "possessed of this anger which I give you" the key to the final explosion: "It is the shadow of hate that I want you / The voice with which I call you is disenchantment / And the seed which I give you is despair."

The voice is hoarse and grainy; it possesses the text with a fundamental fury - there are no artifices nor yielding. The recording of the entire disc propitiates, in fact, this "truth", for it was done with the strength of the presence of the accompanists (the "amalians" Carlos Gonçalves and Joel Pina, on Portuguese and bass guitars, and the "misian" Carlos Manuel Proença on fado viola), without sound mixing, in wholetakes, recorded live in the studio, in front of an old valve microphone.

On the side of the same dramatic sense, contextualization of what the fadist called, in a happy if unorthodox inspiration, "fados for the vein", we can place "O verso em que Peco", by the popular poet Maria João Dámaso, the closest thing to an old-style melodramatic seam, which th fado also contains ("Love, come and set me free […] Before I am shrouded/Bring the verse in which I sin/In your sweet voice/That blesses the sin"), and "Não Guardo Saudade à Vida", a perfect example of how the making of this disc obeyed an initiatic ritual of e return to origins and of openness to change. Already tried in concert, with the music of the fado Carriche, the texto has been transferred to the music of the almost centenarian Fado Saudade, during the work done in the studio. From this intensity of feeling exposed not even the careful staging of vocabulary of "Mãos que se Desatam", by Manuela de Freitas escapes.

At the core of the disc, and in a sense justifying the urgency of this work, is the first fado with words by the singer, "Cor de Lua", also pointing to the ephemeral side of the poem to be sung and, simultaneously, to an autobiographical charge which sets free the song and ignites the voice inhabited by ghosts and symptoms of loss: eight of the twelve verses of the three strophes begin with the same word, "without" ("without fados that teach me to live […]/without crosses to save me from this life"). Among other images, there is one that refers to the title: "I am a dark, moon-coloured cloth". And we begin to understand the inevitability of internal rhymes, when we think of "Mistério Lunar", or of the first verses of another text by João Monge, "A beira da Minha Rua", thrillingly sung a cappella: "It was the moon's lap/At the edge of my destiny." Even from the three fados which make up the "comic relief" to the dominant tragic concentration, the "lunar material: is not absent: if "Formiga" accentuates by teasing its self-ironic side of amusement, if "Ainda Assim" is fulfilled in the anaphoric repetition of "ainda" ("still"), beginning with each one of the twelve verses, "Duas Luas", also by João Monge, points to other paths. Under the lightness of the music of Fado Magala is established a duality in the incidences of destiny, hidden in a lunar metaphor: "I live with two moons/they are my companions/They are both crossed/And neither of them illuminates me."

This illusory predominance of the cold light of lunar rays, on this most incandescent of Mísia's disc, in xhich she most clearly take sup the tragic and fatalistic dimension of fado, will not fail to surprise. The possible reply was already heard in the poem that Augusta Bessa Luís wrote at her request, "Garras dos sentidos" all made of antitheses and forecasting the violence of contradictions: "Happy adversity/ Love is lost steps.// […] it is obedient fury,/It is cold solar rays."

From "solar cold" to lunar incandescence is only a step, which this "Ritual" takes. The nocturnal flavour of this ardent singing, which burns like the rays of the Moon or the disenchanted knowledge of the infallibility of the loss of love hurt like a wound felt, like "happy unawareness" (paraphrasing Fernando Pessoa, the great singer at a distance from our grandeurs and atavistic miseries) of living and the painful "awareness of this".

Mário Jorge Torres / Translated by Ivan Moody


"...it is a disc which shows the course I have taken. Doing, undoing and redoing, knowing that there exists no pure art and that each artist must have his own universe. My hell and my paradise, my life and my death are contained in this disc. My Fado..." Mísia

Télérama FFFF, France.


Timing: 46'06

01. Não Guardo Saudade A Vida (3'52)
02. Xaile De Silêncio (3'17)
03. Duas Luas (2'50)
04. Desespero (3'45)
05. Decisão (3'49)
06. Cor De Lua (3'32)
07. Formiga (3'02)
08. O Verso Em Que Peco (3'58)
09. Lágrima (5'06)
10. Mistério Lunar (3'54)
11. Ainda Assim (3'03)
12. A Beira Da Minha Rua (2'20)
13. Vivendo Sem Mim (3'42)

Audio excerpts

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© Augusto Brázio


Video Clip "Duas Luas" directed by Patrice Leconte