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Introducing: Lusitanian Ghosts

Lusitanian Ghosts: Neil Leyton with an APC Beiroa


Portugal is the oldest country in present-day Europe, they say: founded in 1128 with its borders largely unchanged since the end of the “reconquista” in 1249, from the Minho Province to the Algarve. Long before that, the Romans called it Lusitania, as before them it was home to several Celtic tribes, with central Portugal being home to one of the main tribes who fought the Romans, the Lusitanians.

Music has strong roots in Portugal, long before Fado was invented: Arabic influences are felt to this day. It is a country rich in a wide regional variety of cordophones and other instruments on the verge of extinction. These, we very affectionately call the Lusitanian Ghosts.

Pictured above is a modern-day Viola Beiroa, with its drone double D string called “requinta”, made by Braga town luthier company APC Instruments. APC is one of a few companies keeping these old cordophones from extinction by making a whole new generation of Beiroas, Amarantinas, Toeiras, Campaniças, Braguesas and other guitars, each with its own particular tuning and in several variations of 8, 10, 12 and 15 strings.

Portuguese-Canadian indie-rock artist Neil Leyton, returned to Portugal in 2008 and has spent the better part of the last decade getting to know the Portuguese music industry after living in Canada, the UK and Sweden; and he now presents us with a new album, the debut from the Lusitanian Ghosts artist collective.

Drawing on several local as well as international musicians of several aesthetics, it is a rock n roll singer-songwriter record where we find Leyton and his merry men and women immersed in a no rules approach to musical exploration, anchored in rock n roll but showcasing to the world what these old “forgotten” cordophones sound like in the hands of Abel Beja (from Primitive Reason; playing the Terceira), Vasco Ribeiro Casais aka OMIRI (Braguesa), O Gajo (Campaniça master!), or even Leyton himself playing the Beiroa along with Micke Ghost, the only Swede to actually own and play the Amarantina! As for the Toeira, Guillermo de Llera (Primitive Reason) actually brought one down to the studio – this most rare ghost! – but nobody could really play it; Leyton tried in vain and passed it on to producer Ricardo Ferreira from BLIM Records. It actually has triple (not just double) strings!

The sessions at Canoa Studios in Portugal marked the return of Neil Leyton and Micke Ghost recording together in a studio, something that had not happened for ten years (since the Stockholm recording of “The Betrayal of the Self”, the last Neil Leyton solo album). In 2014, Leyton and Ghost performed together in Portugal opening for Primitive Reason in Ericeira, and the Lusitanian Ghosts were born – releasing the single “Blossom” in 2014. Then Leyton bought and gifted an APC Amarantina to Micke Ghost, delivering it in person in Stockholm in 2016. The stage was set for the making of a new, experimental album fusing this new sound into their songs.

Of course, all this studio experimentation could not go undocumented, and so producer par excellence Ricardo invited young Director André Miranda along with cinematographer Rita Laranjeira into the studio to film a “making of” that is turning into a full-fledged documentary film.

SCL and its label division, Lusitanian, is happy to announce that the Lusitanian Ghosts’ debut album is thusly scheduled for a Spring-Summer release in 2018, accompanied by its documentary film of the same title. The first single and video “Trailer Park Memories” is scheduled for February 2018.

More news coming soon along with the new site www.lusitanianghosts.com!