From out of the union of Enrique Morente’s flamenco and Lagartija Nick’s rock, along with the poetry by Federico Garcia Lorca and music by Leonard Cohen, came a great album, Omega, which pushed the borders of music while also annoying the flamenco purists.
The homonymous documentary recording the genesis of that project is nominated for a #Goya2017 and has already reached Feelmakers (only in Spain so far).
José Sánchez-Montes y Gervasio Iglesias spared no details in documenting the ins and outs of the making of this record, which has been reissued for its twentieth birthday.
Even though the singer Enrique Morente had already recorded a version of Leonard Cohen’s Take This Waltz entitled Small Vals Vienés in 1993, the seed for Omega is found in Alberto Manzano, biographer and translator of Cohen’s lyrics into Spanish, who thought of the flamenco singer to cover his songs, seeing that Morente had recognized the flamenco ingredient in the songs of the Canadian poet, novelist and singer-songwriter. So he was the ideal person, as the musical journalist Diego Manrique noted in the documentary, to “flamenco-ize” the Cohen’s songs, “a Lorquian poet”.
In this essential film, Morente’s biographer, Balbino Gutiérrez, the journalist Jesús Arias and the album’s executive producer, Sabine Ecomard also help us piece together the fragments of the history that made this record possible, motivated by the Poem of the Dead and Poet in New York by Lorca, whom Morente considered a visionary who saw early on the gentrification and capitalism that now reigns in every corner of the world.
And what is Omega if not the question of questions, or the vision of the answer to those questions?
To be his companions, Enrique Morente chose Lagartija Nick, a rock band experimenting with their own music in the same way that the flamenco singer did with his own. As Antonio Arias, the group’s vocalist and bass player, explains: “We always wanted to do flamenco, and Morente always wanted to be a rock and roller, so we decided to join the project and throw off any kind of prejudices and barriers.”
The album, which went on sale in December 1996 and sold 50,000 copies, was little more than a sacrilege for those whom Morente called “flamencolics”. Little did he care about these ferocious criticisms, as someone who years later would play with Sonic Youth and share a line-up with Cohen himself at the Festival de Benicàssim (FIB 2008). Lagartija Nick, in turn, benefited from sharing the stage with the flamenco singer and thus made its way into the world of flamenco, cons: “a room that has doors that only open from the inside.”