The dense riparian forests of Galicia hold centuries of mystery and folklore that’s as much a part of the region—which borders Portugal in northwestern Spain—as its longstanding autonomy. It’s where Sangre De Muerdago (translation: “Blood of Mistletoe”) multi-instrumentalist Pablo C. Ursusson grew up attending family gatherings where singalongs would inevitably break out. That Galician folk music—rich in political and cultural imagery, and traditional instrumentation—has seeped into Sangre De Muerdago’s music.
The four-piece’s fantastically lush new LP Noite (“Night” in Galician) is out April 20 via Neuropa Records, SickManGettingSick Records, and Música Máxima, and traverses far beyond that tradition. It’s the sound of longing and long journeys, all set in the present day and dealing with real issues. There’s also an air of quiet to the music that is only experienced in the small hours.
“The name [Noite] started taking shape because the compositions are a bit more nocturnal and mysterious to me somehow,” Ursusson explained to Noisey via email. “But it’s not necessarily a thematic album.”
There’s also an underlying sense of dread permeating Noite, with themes of death and tireless fighting for noble causes. It feels very much like 2018. “Nights of sun, days of moon, and a smell in the air of blood and sweat / Dirt on the hands, tears in the eyes, of so much fighting and little sleep,” the ensemble sings on “O Descanso” (“The Rest”), the four-part harmony lilting over a single guitar line, flute and harps. Even the percussive instrumental “Mariñeiros” is haunting, and absolutely entrancing.
It’s interesting (but not necessarily surprising) that Sangre De Muerdagos has been embraced by those who love dark folk as well as metalheads. Neurosis’s Steve Von Till counts himself as a fan. “Their albums are some of the most listened to music in my collection, especially while traveling,” he was quoted as saying in Sangre De Muerdago’s press release. “For some reason their music walks hand in hand with the concept of the journey.”
Mark Lore is folked up on Twitter.