Artur Fernandes, Filipe Cal, Filipe Ricardo and Francisco Miguel got together because of a shared interest in the recovery of an instrument that is outdated – the diatonic accordion, known in Portugal as «concertina» - and because they all accepted the challenge of exploring, imagining and conceiving new musical languages on that one machine invented in the XIXth century.
Dancas Ocultas started off by adapting different classical partitions to the instrument - Verdi’s Aida, some of Bach’s work, Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra – and performed live for the first time in May 1989, at the cine-theatre in the city of Aveiro. After that, they started to look into creating their own repertoire. And, in 1992, they travelled to Evora to watch a concert by Riccardo Tesi, who would come to deeply influence them as he confirmed their initial intuition that it was possible to discover something new from such an outdated instrument.
They then looked for a new name that would force people to consider its meaning – hence the name Danças Ocultas, since it is a way of showing that they created music for dances still to be invented.
Only in 1993 did Artur Fernandes show some of their Danças Ocultas’s recordings to Rodrigo Leão, whose enthusiasm lead him to introduce the group to Gabriel Gomes, then accordionist with Madredeus. Gabriel pushed them to compose more original material and to develop a unique language. On a now memorable night in May 1994, the band performed in Braga with Madredeus, spending the early hours of the morning playing their repertoire in the hotel’s toilets, while Gabriel Gomes recorded the session on DAT. After that, they went down to Lisbon for the recording of what would come to be their first album. With 1995 came the group’s first interviews, while they strove to negociate a record contract. The album, with no other title aside from the band’s own name, was finally released in February 1996 by EMI-Valentim de Carvalho.
Unanimously recognized as one of the best albums of the year, this work – predominantly made of compositions by Artur Fernandes – lead to a series of concerts and public apearances that quickly extended abroad: in 1997 the band was invited to take part in various international festivals throughout Spain, Marroco, France and Belgium.
Confronted with other stages and other audiences, the group felt the need to imprint a new dynamic into their sound. They needed a wider set one notes in flat sounds. This is when they decided to introduce a second technical change, by creating an unlikely and previously nonexistent instrument: the concertina-baixo – which, since it is not destined for a soloist, only makes sense within an ensemble. From then on, it was played by Filipe Ricardo.
With that same sound, between December 1997 and January 1998, Danças Ocultas record a second set on original compositions. This time, the collective begins to a have a greater influence in the composition process and it becomes clear that they desire to unite their own music with other traditions, other arts and even with other asthetic horizons. Released before the summer of the same year, and once again produced by Gabriel Gomes, the album «Ar» starts off with the song «Escalada», a tribute to the Argentinian mentor Astor Piazzolla. It also includes a scenic track («Hinos à Noite») created for a theater play by Filipe Pereira, as well as two songs included in the soundtrack for Carlos da Silva and George Sluizer’s film «Mortinho por Chegar a Casa».
With more concerts, tours and other festival experiences, this innovative asthetics also brought new challenges. In 2001, the choreographer Paulo Ribeiro invited them to not only compose new tracks for his company’s next show but also to integrate the actual choreagraphy. The need to move on stage and to abandon the traditional sitting and static positions, caused a series of changes, both technological (in the way the sound is captured, for example) and in the actual execution technique, and therefore in the composition. Meanwhile, the five original songs they created for the play «Tristes Europeus» were included in the new repertoire, also benefiting from all the contacts accumulated during the long tour with Paulo Ribeiro’s company (who will again invite them in 2004 to take part in the «White» choreography, this time with Ballet Gulbenkian). Later, in 2002, the record company L’Empreinte Digitale released in France a compilation of tracks from their first two albums, entitled «Travessa da Espera».
Without a record contract, the group decides to produce the third original album with their own money – a process that was documented in the book «Alento», by Jorge P. Pires (text) and Duarte Belo (photography), published in November 2003 by Assírio e Alvim. This is a book where Danças Ocultas’ adventure is used as the basis for an imaginary trip involving the air, its qualities and its importance for civilizations and world musics, with particular emphasis on Europe, the homeland of the concertina.
Finally recorded in Lisbon, at the studios O Circo Voador, between the end of 2003 and the beginning of 2004, «Pulsar» materializes something Artur Fernandes once summed up in one sentence: «We are a synthesis of experiences». Still produced by Gabriel Gomes, and mixed by António Pinheiro da Silva, «Pulsar» included the collaborations of a wide gallery of guests, among others, Syrian musician and singer Abed Azrié, Brazilian mandolinist Edu Miranda, Gaiteiros de Lisboa, percussionists José Salgueiro and Rui Júnior, double bass player António Augusto Aguiar, singer Maria João and pianist Mário Laginha.
Refering to the motives and experiences captured at different places around the globe, and using them to build a solid musical discourse, the fourteen tracks therefore register the current state of a decade old musical adventure, forever defined by the progressive distancing from the concertina’s dialogue with the world – and the musics – of our time. These songs also prove that the concertina continues to be a dream making machine, inventing possible futures and building senses.
In 2009 Dancas Ocultas presented and released their latest work “Tarab”: a new concept of show, using multimédia as an
interactive means, as a sound reaction, or as a catalyst of imagination and emotional contents. Melodies, harmonies and rhythms played by each accordion generate shapes and images projected on a white screen at the
back of the stage. These visual elements accelerate, slow down and suspend, emphasizing the dynamics and movements of the
music, with references to rural life and the cosmopolitanism of
our time. Danças Ocultas have the ability to build bridges between tradition and contemporaneity.
Artur Fernandes - diatonic accordion
Filipe Cal - diatonic accordion
Francisco Miguel - diatonic accordion
Filipe Ricardo - diatonic accordion
2009 Tarab (Numerica)
2004 Pulsar (Magic Music)
2002 Travessa da Espera (L’Empreinte Digitale)
1998 Ar (EMI VC)
1996 Dancas Ocultas (EMI VC)
Inventive and creative
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„Inventive and creative instrumental music by one of Europe’s best art music ensembles. Highly recom...„Inventive and creative instrumental music by one of Europe’s best art music ensembles. Highly recommended!“
CD Roots 2007
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“Danças Ocultas are very special - the interaction of these four accordionists is amazing. Their mus...“Danças Ocultas are very special - the interaction of these four accordionists is amazing. Their music is so full of tension that you did not realise how the time goes by. The music is excellently arranged and acts between very slow bits, where only one accordion is playing - creating an atmosphere of very loud silence - up to quite fast and very lively pieces. It is not easy to describe their music - you simply have to see them live to get an idea of what they are doing (or at least you should listen to their CD...) My personal highlight of the festival.”
The Music was the Queen of the Night
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“…During the one hour of the concert, the music was the queen of the night which covered Tejo. The ...“…During the one hour of the concert, the music was the
queen of the night which covered Tejo. The accordion tuned the voice and naked different breaths and walks through landscapes of the country side... if we got
delighted with the music, the musicians enjoyed it not less, in the
pleasure of designing it in the dialogues
among each other”
One of the best projects in the Portuguese music scene
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“This is a really new concept of a great concert which demonstrates the potentialities of the Portu...“This is a really new concept of a great concert which
demonstrates the potentialities of the Portuguese music.
It is a very good album, with beautiful music, Danças
Ocultas is surely one of the best ever conceived projects
in the Portuguese music scene.”
Une mécanique impressionnante
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“Une mécanique impressionnante, une machinerie destinée à produire une qualité d’émotion subtile et...“Une mécanique impressionnante, une machinerie
destinée à produire une qualité d’émotion subtile et non dépourvue d’humour”
“Un quatour de mousquetaires portugais maniant
l’accordéon comme dês horlogers suisses”
“J’imagine toujours que ces instruments, si humains par leur respiration, se concentrent avant d’entrer en jeu”
between extreme finesse, delicacy and bold invention
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The Portuguese accordion quartet Danças Ocultas has already released two outstanding albums in its n...The Portuguese accordion quartet Danças Ocultas has already released two outstanding albums in its native country. L'empreinte digitale offers us a condensed version of them on this CD, and it's a straight-out must. The instruments work closely together, helping, supporting, completing each other. They prolong each other's notes, exchange pulls, interleave their low notes. This is composed music, but something truly Portuguese emerges, on a par with its traditions which make frequent use of the accordion in most regions. Without launching into a simple replica of a regional dance formula, these pieces touch on this, go right up close to its contours, soak up the nostalgia of a song, the euphoria of a corridinho. But Portugal is only one amongst several tangible elements here. There's a tendency to create music that can stand on its own outside time, music anchored in the relevant traditions but which uses real contemporary creativity as well as strong instrumental technique. So we move between extreme finesse, delicacy and bold invention. Like a carpet of accordions being unrolled in several layers - fine melodies surfing on waves of low notes, repetitive rhythmic phrases that encircle the whole, changes of tempo, wave upon wave of different tones giving the impression of an unfurling polyphony. Then suddenly, this breathing sound close to the microphone marking time and the rhythm and adding its lifelike presence to the others' playing. The musicians here have dared to use all the possibilities of the instrument, including the one that gives no reed sound. So sometimes they mix this jerky moan in with other notes, at others it's inserted in small doses or in strong, rhythmic movements; or again all four launch into some pure pulling / pushing, marking out a sort of ecstatic dance that is not unlike that of certain Sufi brotherhoods. A few dry slaps on the keys or the wood, some rasping and some decidedly sharper moves of the bellows lend the whole thing a certain air of mystery. At other times, you suddenly have the impression there's a procession of old-fashioned steam engines crossing the landscape produced by the refined playing of some bucolic accordionist holding a conversation with his sheep!
This is a majestic album, a clever one too, simple and well-handled at the same time. In fifty minutes it offers a musical synthesis that contains both everything and nothing because it reinvents and renews the genre the whole time.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.
|Aug 22, 2010 Sunday||9:30 PM||Festival Bons Sons||Cem Soldos, Tomar, Not Applicable, PT|
|Jun 12, 2010 Saturday||TBA||Mosteiro dos Jerónimos||Lisbon, Not Applicable, PT|
|May 30, 2010 Sunday||TBA||Instituo Franco-Portugues||Lisbon, Not Applicable, PT|
|May 22, 2010 Saturday||TBA||Cine Teatro Curvo Semedo||Montemor-o-Novo, Not Applicable, PT|
|Apr 10, 2010 Saturday||10:00 PM||Cine Teatro||Estarreja, Not Applicable, PT|
|Mar 28, 2010 Sunday||3:00 PM||Theater de Maasterpoort||Venlo, Not Applicable, NL|
|Mar 27, 2010 Saturday||8:15 PM||Arsenaaltheater||Vlissingen, Not Applicable, NL|
|Mar 26, 2010 Friday||8:30 PM||Tropentheater||Amsterdam, Not Applicable, NL|
|Mar 5, 2010 Friday||8:30 PM||TMG Grande Auditorio||Guarda, Not Applicable, PT|
|Feb 25, 2010 Thursday||8:30 PM||Le Maillon||Strasbourg, Not Applicable, FR|
|Feb 24, 2010 Wednesday||8:30 PM||Le Maillon||Strasbourg, Not Applicable, FR|
|Feb 23, 2010 Tuesday||8:30 PM||Le Maillon||Strasbourg, Not Applicable, FR|