Click to hear: “La Luz en Mi Vida“
Olas is basically an expanded version of the group ex-Cerberus Shoal member Chriss Sutherland put together for his 2009 solo album, Worried Love. Several guests on that record are members of Olas, and two songs from Worried are also on Olas’ debut, La Perla.
Which is to say, a good project has gotten even better.
Olas plays a post-modern mix of Flamenco and Arabic music, with elements of American folk and Afro-Cuban percussion thrown in to keep things spicy.
Percussionist Dylan Blanchard of Grupo Esperanza is in the group, but all eighth members contribute hand claps (or palmas), and dancers Lindsey Bourassa and Megan Keogh add the pedi-percussion known as zapateado — shoes rhythmically striking the floor in Spanish dance.
The remarkably versatile Leif Sherman-Curtis (of the trip-metal group AoK Suicide Forest, and formerly of doomers Conifer) joins Sutherland on guitar. Tom Kovacevic — formerly of the avant-Arabic trio Tarpigh, which melded with Shoal at one point — plays oud and ney. Everyone sings, with Sutherland’s well-seasoned voice front and center.
A local world-music supergroup, Olas doesn’t disappoint. La Perla is a very listenable collection of mostly original compositions sung in Spanish (translations in the liner notes). Though Sutherland, Sherman-Curtis and Kovacevic are known for creating really out-there music, Olas plays it pretty straight. Things get a little strange toward the end of this nine-song release, but it’s never alienating.
Olas is a collaboration between musicians and dancers, so the true Olas experience can only be had seeing them perform live. Luckily, you’ve got several chances to do that this month. Take one.
— Chris Busby
Olas plays a CD release show on Sat., Nov. 6, at The Oak and the Ax, 140 Main St., Biddeford, at 8 p.m. Tix: $7 (all ages). They play another CD release show on Fri., Nov. 12, at Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland, at 8 p.m. Tix: $10 (all ages). Visit olasmusicanddance.com for more about the group.