Magic, history and
female strength in
Tarta Relena is the love child of Barcelona-based artists Marta Torrella and Helena Ros, and feels like a breeze of fresh air bringing with it the salty smell of the Mediterranean waters. They take traditional songs and ancient melodies (stemming from their early steps in singing as part of a choir) putting their own spin and breathing new life into them. A cappella and occasionally accompanied with some electric elements, their voices harmonize beautifully and will take you on a journey through their peculiar sound imagery - a perfect respite from the current situation.
Photo by Duna Vallès,
“This image of something that is feminine and elegant but also slightly f*cked up worked well for us”.
Both cover arts by Clàudia Torrents, @arkivia
In this very, very weird spring that we find ourselves immersed in, Tarta Relena have decided to grace us with their second EP, titled Intercede Pro Nobis. It is the natural continuation of their first album Ora Pro Nobis, it was recorded shortly after and includes songs that have already been performed in their concerts. “Both releases can be understood as side A and side B of the same thing” they say. This is also reinforced by the cover artworks, both featuring a lipstick which encompasses well the duo’s character; “this image of something that is feminine and elegant but also slightly f*cked up worked well for us”. Recorded at Hermitage Works Studios in London and produced by the guys of Nerobambola, they released it in “confined format”. As a way to give good value for their work and support after the effects of this period of inactivity and cancellation of concerts, only those who purchase it in digital format will be able to listen to it.
“What always pulls us in to a song is the melody” they explain. “A beautiful melody, which somehow moves us and captivates us. From there, we have a base to work on and we enter the song; what do the lyrics mean, where, by who and how it is sung... Once we have really gotten acquainted with the song and its context, we feel like we can take it out from there and play with it, from a place of respect but also without fear”. This previous work of research is reflected in the little booklet accompanying the album, which references each song’s origin and meaning. Along the 5 songs of the EP (which feels much too short) Tarta Relena take us through Mediterranean soundscapes and sing about unsatisfied desires, the solitude of the poetic voice, three girls on their way to pick up some olives, an intoxicated man dancing in a Greek tavern and the traumatic experience of being born into this world.
Marta and Helena’s endearing friendship dates back to primary school and is one of the secret keys to this project. But not only Marta and Helena’s complicity transpires; many friends have helped carefully craft Tarta Relena along the way and contributed to it becoming the strong and cohesive proposal that it is today. People like Claudia Torrents for example, a long-time friend of the duo who has been instrumental in constructing a perfectly fitting visual imaginary around Tarta Relena’s songs. “We have just been very lucky that life has placed such talented people who totally get us around us”.
“We like feeling like we are making something very connected to ourselves and to what we have seen and experienced, and I guess we do feel a deep sense of belonging for these landscapes”.
One can find Marta and Helena’s sense of humour as well in their project, that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The second song of the EP, Peproteico, is a little window into their creation process which shows the playfulness and will to explore sound possibilities, and the joy they find in this. It gives the whole thing a sense of lightness, a good counterpoint to the weight of tradition the project inherently carries. Contrary to what it might seem, their proposal feels delightfully contemporary and exciting. There are no pretensions in this album, just a lot of care, exquisite taste, honesty and a palpable respect and curiosity for the craft. “We like feeling like we are making something very connected to ourselves and to what we have seen and experienced, and I guess we do feel a deep sense of belonging for these landscapes”.
Photos by Duna Vallès, @duna.valles
Text by Laura Cabiscol