Review: Glorias Navales – Live at Fundación Comunidad Contemporánea (Frente al Fuego, Feb 18)

One of the most understated and curious releases on Graham Lambkin’s inimitable Kye Records (closed since 2017) was Chilean quintet Glorias Navales’s Cofradia Náutica, a humble debut LP of artfully naïve communal acoustic jams that warmly absorb the sounds of their surroundings and audiences even as they are performed for/to them. There are very few, if any recordings that can match the magic that occurs (though some other Kye releases, such as cellist Alec Livaditis’s Clear and Cloud, come close), and thus, despite their devoutly modest approach to music making, GxNx has become legend. Live at Fundación Comunidad Contemporánea comes nearly four years after their last record, Presenta El Blues de Istvan on A Wave Press, at a time when new material from the ramshackle folk unit was needed most—I’m sure I don’t need to explain why. The release makes available an intimate live session from November 2019 by the core lineup of Christian Bartlou (banjo), brothers Alvaro and Ivan Daguer (drum and ukelele), Tomás Salvatierra (guitar), and José Luis Sepulveda (rabel) featuring renditions of songs from El Blues de Istvan (and I stand by my earlier use of the phrase “new material,” because every time a GxNx piece is played it becomes something unique), including “Enero,” which also appeared on Cofradia Náutica. From the plucky, pastoral beauty of “Entrando el Espejo”—augmented by some absolutely breathtaking bow and effects work by Sepulveda—to the overlapping, glorious mess of “Sabres,” there won’t be many moments while listening to Fundación Comunidad Contemporánea when you aren’t smiling.

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