Bandolirium – Bandolirium (12 May 2017)
In a coincidence that ranks up there with both Baker’s chocolate and German’s chocolate cake, the bandoneon was named for the man who had invented it in the mid-nineteenth century, German music instrument dealer Heinrich Band. The concertina-style instrument was used to accompany religious and popular music of that time, spreading into eastern Europe where some had adopted it into their traditional folk styles — but the bandoneon’s popularity really took off when it reached Argentina, where it quickly became an integral part of tango music.
The complex instrument, which like other concertinas (but unlike its cousin the accordion) is designed to play different tones depending on whether the bellows are being squeezed inward or pulled outward in conjunction with various combinations of the thirty-three left-hand and thirty-eight right-hand buttons, became rather scarce after production had ceased near the end of World War II. But with a recent return to manufacturing in Germany — and especially in the past few years when domestic models are now being made for the first time ever in Argentina — it appears that the bandoneon and the tango music with which it is most closely associated may both be experiencing something of a resurgence in popularity.
Argentinian bandoneonist, teacher, and composer Amijai Ben Shalev had the idea to incorporate the instrument into the context of progressive metal, and so gathered together fellow porteños Marcos de Cristobal (guitar), Matias Brandauer (bass), and Marcos Edwards (drums), forming Bandolirium in 2016. As a taste of how this unique style would fit within the structure of metal music, the band released their rendition of “Por Quien Doblan las Campanas” (or “For Whom the Bells Toll”) in an instrumental arrangement, where the bandoneon sometimes slips into the background playing chords along with the rhythm guitar parts, but elsewhere produces a tango-flavored melody in the place of the vocals from the original song. Feel free to check out this recording right here, then continue reading as we address the group’s self-titled debut record which they’ve put out about a month and a half ago …