Album Review of
L'efecte Doppler (“The Doppler Effect”)

Written by Joe Ross
February 4, 2024 - 11:20pm EST
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In 2021, La gravityt de Coulomb’s first album E pur si balla (“And Yet We Dance”) landed them many gigs at Spain’s roots music festivals. Now, the band’s latest album L'efecte Doppler ("The Doppler Effect") presents their new show designed for both dancers and listeners. As you may recall from your high school physics class, The Doppler Effect is frequency (or pitch) changes of a sound wave as the source of the wave moves closer or away from the listener. Similarly, this band’s music seems to capture the nuances of velocity (tempo) and motion (melodies). The set opens and closes with the galloping songs "Que va i que ve" (“What’s Going and What’s Coming”) and "Que ve i se n va" ("That Comes and Goes"). These tributes to the typical Gypsy dances in the Vallès and Maresme areas provide melodic conversations between flute, clarinet and accordion.

The set also features an espolsada ("Una punxa al peu" … A Stick in the Foot), a bolangera ("Vestits de Flors” …. Flower Dresses), a jota ("El salt de rata" … The Leap of the Rat), a xotis (“Tu” … You), a mazurca ("And there were 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 grains of wheat") and even some Americana ("Lullaby for an Epileptic Dog").

This Spanish ensemble has a very pleasing sound with its prominent use of the flabiol, a Catalan woodwind musical instrument in the fipple flute family. La gravityt de Coulomb’s primary flabiol player is Pau Benítez who also sings and plays tambourine. I’m not certain if Benítez plays the keyed flabiol or type without keys, but he utilizes it in such a way that this band’s arrangements are much more complex than those in your typical Catalan folk music ensemble. Manu Sabate’s bass clarinet provides a unique juxtaposed contrast to the high-pitched flabiol.

Other musicians on the album provide accordion, clarinet, sax, trombone, trumpet, drum, box, synthesized sounds and vocals either sung or spoken. The musical mix makes for a very interesting, fun, thoughtful and stimulating dialogue. Opening with bellowing accordion of Blai Casals, “Ottawa És Més A La Vora Del Món Real Que Del Japó” is a musical adventure that somehow explains how “Ottawa is closer to the real world than Japan.”  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)