Album Review of
El Rodar del Bolindre

Written by Joe Ross
March 28, 2023 - 11:44am EDT
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Formed in 1999, Aulaga Folk hails from the Spanish town of Casas del Monte in the Province of Cáceres. The Ambroz Valley is known for its vegetated mountains, hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, water and other nature activities in the foothills of the Bejar and Gredos mountain ranges. Under the musical direction of guitarist and singer Javier Colmenar Osuna, Aulaga Folk is comprised of seven solid musicians who sing and play flute, violin, percussion , drums, electric bass, clarinet and electric guitar. About a dozen collaborating musicians contribute to El Rodar del Bolindre, primarily with additional voices, flute, bass and drums.

The album’s title refers to “The Rolling of the Marble” and the set of music open with the sound of the small ball bouncing along. After a pleasant acoustic rendition of “El Roal del Bolindri” (The Royal of Bolindri), we then hear a slightly different, more raucous and rocking side of Aulaga Folk with “Ronda Dama Si Sales” (Round Lady If You Come Out).  Their dynamic music covers a lot of territory with carefully-cultivated arrangements of instrumental interludes followed by vocalizing. The male lead singers are confident and robust on “La Jota de las Ganancias” (The Jack of Profits) while of special note, the choruses incorporate the four female voices of a group called Mansabora Folk who are also featured in track seven, a popular song called “Los Escobazos de Jarandilla.”  

An original composition, “A la Luz del Candil” (In the Light of the Lamp) features the radiant singing of Aulaga Folk’s violinist Ana Lobo Sanchez.  The band is very comfortable with popular songs like “Venticuatro Mozas - Tio Babu” (Twenty Four Girls - Uncle Babu), “Los Escobazos de Jarandilla” and “A la Sombra de un Arbol Frondosu” (In the Shade of a Frondosu Tree). Not being a great Spanish speaker (despite my four years of studying the language in high school), I certainly focused more on the instrumental side of Aulaga Folk. “De Calbotá y Mojiganga” (From Calbotá and Mojiganga) is an instrumental tune from the Ambroz Valley.  “A Cantaros” (To Sing To You) is a mellow tribute to Pablo Guerrero.

A bonus track to close the set, “Juegos de Antano” (Games of Yesteryear) continues with their theme of letting the marble roll. Their analogy is that life’s path is full of colorful marbles that splash up with musical sounds and tints of tradition to develop and embellish. The sensual music of Aulaga Folk captures those moments, past and present, with their instruments and voices. Then, they create their own contemporary sound for the future. A child playing with marbles for the first time has a lot to learn. At first, you may have to make your own marbles by hand from the clay washed in after a spring rain. Ultimately, they’ll achieve an expertise and oneness with their game (or music) that our perceptions will change forever to ones that emphasize reverie and enjoyment. So, through music, their advice seems to be to be humble and wise but “Let those marbles roll!” to experience and enjoy life.      

Aulaga Folk incorporates elements of traditional ballads, symphonic music, rock touches, Andlusian airs, Celtic-infused sensibilities and Portuguese raia. At the same time, they show great respect for their regional flag and root language in the central-western part of the Iberian Peninsula.

English translation of the lyrics would’ve been nice, and perhaps they’ll add some to their website or in the liner notes of future projects meant for a worldwide listening audience. Aulaga Folk certainly has the potential to go far on international festival stages and build a far-reaching legion of fans for their exciting and lively music that has one foot in tradition and another in contemporary sounds appealing to younger generations. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)