I remember the day I first heard Madredeus. I was drinking a coffee in a cafe and suddenly became aware of one of the most beautiful voices I had ever heard. The music ranged from atmospheric and hypnotic to obviously European style with accordians and guitars. I’ve always loved Irish and folk music and this deceptively simple music stood out as being technically excellent as well as highly pleasurable.
Way back when I used to be into Goth music and whilst my style and make-up have changed, the love of the melancholy has never left me. Whilst you will find some upbeat major chords in the music of Madredeus the typical ‘saudade’ of fado is never far away. What draws me most aside from the obvious Portuguese connection is the tenderness of expression heard throughout every song.
My first acquisition of the Madredeus collection was Existir which was their second album. It displays many of the traditional Fado roots from which this band were born. Over time they have begun to draw on other influences but Fado has remained the strongest.
The name Madredus was coined after the band recorded their first album “Os dias da Madredeus” (The Days of Madredeus) in a disused building where the roar of the Lisbon trains could be regularly heard. The nearest station was Madre de Deus (Mother of God) and so the name was born.
The band was originally started by Pedro Ayres Magalhães and Rodrigo Leão. They discovered Teresa Salgueiro singing in the bars of Lisbon and she agreed to join them. Since those beginnings in 1985 the band has changed in line-up with Rodrigo Leão leaving to pursue a new career.
Currently the members are
Teresa Salgueiro – vocals
Fernando Júdice – acoustic bass guitar
Carlos Maria Trindade – keyboard/syth
José Peixoto – classical guitar
Francisco Ribeiro – cello
Previous members have also included
Pedro Ayres Magalhães
Although their first four albums were celebrated in Portugal with their strong Fado roots and striking musicianship, Madredeus remained mostly invisible to the rest of the world. It was to be the brilliant director Wim Wenders who after spotting the band offered them their break and a major part in his movie ‘A Lisbon Story’. Technically brilliant and beautifully filmed, the movie was a great success and brought the sound and songs of Madredus out from Portugal into the world.
Whilst their original strong Fado base has been tempered over the years as well as mixed (check out Madredeus Electronico), their sound remains unique and captivating. My favourite songs are currently Ainda (‘Still’ – the title track of the same named album) which featured in ‘A Lisbon Story’; O Sonho (The Dream) which features on Madredeus Electronica and Haja O Que Houver (No Matter What) which is found on O Paraíso. That said I have yet to find a song I dislike on any of this bands albums. Haunting, bewitching, atmospheric, chilled – just some of the adjectives I’d use to describe them. O Espírito da Paz is highly recommended to newcomers.
Os Dias da MadreDeus (1987)
Lisboa (1992, live in Lisbon)
O Espírito da Paz (1994)
Ainda (1995, soundtrack from Lisbon Story)
O Paraíso (1997)
O Porto (1998, live at Porto)
Antologia (2000, a compilation of ‘best of’ material)
Palavras Cantadas (2001)
Um Amor Infinito (2004)
Faluas do Tejo (2005)