During my first trip to Uruguay last May I briefly stayed with a bald-headed Vespa freak in Tacuarembó in the North of the country. Mainly I had chosen to couchsurf with this fellow as I fancied making a trip to his town and noticed that the guy was a keen guitarrist. In the end I got on far better with his dog, Telstar, than him but this trip was memorable for one major thing. I asked him for some Uruguayan music and he spent about an hour deciding on three albums by three different artists that I should put on my mp3 player. The first, Hugo Fattoruso, was okay, nothing special. The second was Eduardo Mateo, and I still haven’t managed to get to the third. It took me about two months before I managed to get past the first song on the Mateo album to be the fair. That song was Yulele:
The album I had been given was Mateo’s Classics Vol.1, which is a collection of songs off his first two albums. Along with Os Novos Baianos’ Acabou Chorare this is probably the album I’ve listened to the most during my trip. The fact that I knew nothing about the album and its creator making the experience even better perhaps. It’s quite clear that there is a lot going on with Mateo. His voice is constantly taking on different personalities and the lyrics, well the lyrics are pretty sad. But it’s the rhythms and the unusual melodies that really make these songs great, with some of his vocal harmonies in particular literally bringing me to my knees.
I have been trying to find out more about him but it’s a nightmare. I have been to every bookstore in Montevideo and there is nothing. I eventually managed to find a book that someone had scanned into their computer online. It’s quite interesting but all the blurring and crookedness from a bad scan job make it hard to read for any more than 5 minutes. Other than that all material on the web is in Spanish and not of much interest. There is also a massive lack of live videos on Youtube, hence the videos I am posting here.
Of which, this is another, this time featuring songs from his second album. I just read that only 443 copies of this album were ever pressed. Apparently the public were a little dismayed by the changes he’d made in his voice. After singing quite clearly on his previous albums, he’d decided to try droning his voice more, using even stranger harmonies and many people assumed this was because he had become mentally ill.
And to finish with a quote which I probably have badly-translated from Spanish:
“I am not fully realised as a guitarrist because I am not fully realised as a human being, and further I am not happy. So the music I play signifies my problems. There are spaces when I am playing when I am not me.”
– Discography of Mateo with links to download many of his albums