Taken from 'La otra mitad' album
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The Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida said, more or less, that "an artist should always try to do what he still does not know how to do.” Without actually knowing this quotation but only the sensation and the wakefulness behind it, Refree’s musical art seems to subscribe word for word to Chillida’s edict.
In 2017 Refree undertook the production of two instrumental leaning 10-inch solo EPs. Jai Alai vol.01, is mostly a collection of reflective solo guitar music, with each title named according to the instrument used on the track and the date on which it was played (“Ramirez 11012017” / “Telecaster 01032017b”). The second Jai Alai volume is quite a different proposition, with the material coming from a soundtrack project, and the sound palette expanded to include recordings of street music, voices and a subtle electronic dimension.
“I started the first 10" collection because I didn’t feel like waiting for an album to be recorded and I was feeling more attached to showing what I was doing, and how I was feeling about music, right then. More like a work in progress. I also thought it was more related to the way music works nowadays. But after Jai Alai vol.2 I thought these two releases had a strong relation between them, in the way one is the evolution of the other. I wanted to do instrumental music, but at the same time I wanted vocal recordings to be the inspiration of some compositions. There's no singer but there is one. There's no more than just me on every song but at times there's something like a whole orchestra.”
It is revealing that much of La Otra Mitad is music made for a movie. Or maybe, it could be called music from a movie (not all songs appear in the film). Or, perhaps also, music made during the construction of a movie. The film in question is "Entre dos aguas” by Isaki Lacuesta. The director Lacuesta explains the soundtrack’s unconventional creative process: "
It was very good that Raül came to the filming in San Fernando, because he worked in the field just like us. Sometimes he was there during the filming of a scene and kept a recording of the voice of one of the characters, which then became a piece of music. On other occasions we showed him something in the editing room and worked the sound part right there, like Neil Young when he played music for Jim Jarmusch's ‘Dead Man,’ which is a reference that I always had in mind during this process.”
The soundtrack pieces are an exercise in voices found and then converted into samples: that of flamenco singer Rocío Márquez, that of El Bolita, a boy who participated in the film and who spontaneously started singing in front of Raül, or the discarded vocal sketches from El Niño de Elche’s celebrated “Antología del Cante Flamenco Heterodoxo” which was co-composed and produced by Refree.
"I was very interested in the idea of making music with voices that were not recorded on purpose for this record," says Raül. "They had to be recorded in other contexts, with another objective. This decision made me much more open to unforeseen things happening. And, in the end, this spirit fit with a line of work that I had been exploring for some time: to see what other areas can be reached with flamenco, something based on a certain idea of the South's environment.”
Throughout the process of making La Otra Mitad, Raül Refree also found another voice: his own; always changing, always expanding in richness and always open to saying, what he does not yet know.