This Spanish nine-piece ensemble have released six albums since their debut in 1985, but the band first convened even earlier, back in 1976. Despite that, their profile outside Spain remains very low indeed.
Acetre reside in the town of Olivenza, which is part of the Extremadura region, right next to Portugal. That accounts for a certain amount of dialect confusion, and some stray fado elements, but these are the least of the band's cultural collisions, as the Acetre sound is something of a folksy hybrid, hardly sounding Spanish at all, at least to these English ears. If the music has any indigenous similarities, it's with the Galician traditional sound of the north-west, complete with pipes and accordions.
The pieces are all traditional, but it's hard to discern their countries of origin once they've been arranged by the multi-instrumentalist José Tomás Sousa. Everything is thrown into a bulging pot, but the most problematic presence is an unstoppably metronomic drumkit beat that hammers all the players into a rigidly regimental folk/rock pogo which not even the addition of darabouka and djembe can derail.
There only appears to be two singers, but they're overdub-crazy, creating a virtual mass that mostly sounds like a Bulgarian choir, but also has faint washes of the Sardinian, Corsican, and Georgian traditions. Then as a bonus, there are added streaks of North African trancing and, most distressingly, North American pomp/rock.
There's also a wide range of blown instruments, influenced by the fluting sound of Turkey and Armenia. Plus fiddles, clarinet and gaita bagpipe ... ultimately, the production is so dense, and the beats so persistent, that there isn't much room for the ears to manoeuvre at all, especially considering that a large cast of guest players are also competing for space.
It seems likely that if Acetre play any festival dates around these parts, we can expect a multitude of hippies in billowing skirts, doing their mystical dervish dances right in front of the speaker stacks.
by Reviewer: BBC Music
(blogging at BBC Music
)19th May 2017