The title The Pig's Heart refers to "the idea of the eternal coming and going through life with sadness and the natural imperfection which makes us like a pig attempting to wrench notes from a harp. And whatever man does to evolve and study, he will never be more than this, a lonely pig with eternal insatisfaction (sic) like a hump."
Sometimes it's a good thing that CDs are sealed in the shop. It prevents us from reading stuff like the above beforehand. Lucky for those like us who aren't fluent in Catalan, all lyrics on this CD are in this official language of the area from around Valencia/Spain wherefrom hails L'Ham de Foc, which means something like fishhook of fire. Mara Aranda is the voice, Efrén Lopez the multi-instrumentalist and the two form the backbone of the group. On Cor de Porc, a handful of guests appear on a wide variety of instruments from not only all over the world but also spanning the Middle Ages to more current times.
The music by L'Ham de Foc is best described as all-Mediterranean with a Balkan/Medieval garnish. The rich variety of string instruments and the lack of any electronica is the base on which Mara Aranda erects her songs. Each one is different in texture. Efrén Lopez is the proud owner of a gigantic arsenal of instruments that he has all mastered, making for enormous variety of sounds. To get an idea of which instruments are used, a visit to the webpage is worthwhile.
All songs have one thing in common - a sort of drone. This element is found in Medieval music but also in Afghan and Scandinavian styles. On top of this drone, the band weaves layer upon layer of instruments and tops it off with the clear voice of Mara Aranda. Each layer might have its home in a distant part of the world. A Norwegian langeleik is matched with tabla, an Afghan rabab combines with a Persian santur and a bagpipe becomes the lead to a Catalan harp. It is hard to put a label on this music. There are so many influences to discover in the melodies and timbres these instruments provide. Beautiful is enough.
Though hard to catalogue, the musical style of L'Ham de Foc is an actual tradition around Valencia and called Cant d'Estil. Here a poet whispers a text to the singer who improvises thereon with the help of a fixed melody. It is somewhat like traditional flamenco except that L'Ham de Foc adds a plethora of instruments to the traditions, making the Cant d'Estil a truly worldwide happening.