A Presença Das Formigas: Ciclorama

Portuguese folk fortified with a hint of prog.

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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.

Sid Smith

Sid's feature articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Prog, Classic Rock, Record Collector, Q, Mojo and Uncut. A full-time freelance writer with hundreds of sleevenotes and essays for both indie and major record labels to his credit, his book, In The Court Of King Crimson, an acclaimed biography of King Crimson, was substantially revised and expanded in 2019 to coincide with the band’s 50th Anniversary. Alongside appearances on radio and TV, he has lectured on jazz and progressive music in the UK and Europe.  

A resident of Whitley Bay in north-east England, he spends far too much time posting photographs of LPs he's listening to on Twitter and Facebook.