A surprise hit at Portugal’s 2012 Gouveia Festival, The Presence of the Ants (as their name translates into English) take Portuguese traditional music and infuse it with a muscular hint of prog and folk-rock. The instrumentation’s largely acoustic, with plenty of intricate dovetailing and forceful dynamics.
Harnessing sparkling melodies and drum-driven marches, the septet’s tunes are laced with ravishing flourishes of recorder, accordion and horns.
With a tone occasionally reminiscent of the rustic escapades of Gentle Giant or PFM’s bucolic seasonings, the band demonstrate a feather-light, capricious interplay that employs exotic tonal colourings from electric piano, intriguing percussive accents, and truly radiant vocal harmonies.
Complex harmonic shifts within tricky time signatures are negotiated with graceful musicianship, and the Portuguese lyrics are delivered with captivating, bell-like clarity by Teresa Camposres. Similarly, the dialogue between instrumentalist Manuel Maio’s violin, mandolin and cavaquinho (a Portuguese four-string guitar) and André Cardoso’s lean classical guitar counterpoint delivers an especially piquant thrill.