Companyia Elèctrica Dharma
Companyia Elèctrica Dharma is a Catalan band. Many of its members are brothers, from the district of Sants, in the city of Barcelona. They have performed in Europe, North and South America and Africa. At music festivals including "Rock in Rio", Rio de Janeiro (Brasil) "Memphis In May" Memphis (USA) "Festival of Essakane" (Mali) "Awesome Africa Festival" and Durbane (South Africa). Their albums are distributed worldwide. The band's music is a fusion of Cobla, Rock, Jazz, Blues, Progressive music, and Symphonic rock.
The will to become a band brought three brothers of the Fortuny family to form "Els Llums". Their first concert was at Casal d'Horta in 1967. Josep was the drummer, Esteve played guitar and organ and Joan was at the Bass. They sang The Beatles' songs, the oblied version of The House of the Rising Sun amongst other Catalan traditional arrangements to rock. The rise of folk music, brought to the conversion of Els Llums into La Roda while they turned on to acustic. Josep with a twelve string guitar, Esteve at the counterbass and Joan with guitars and flute with two new friends, Jordi Marigó, banjo; and Francesc Granell, guitar. They kept singing in Catalan but they added some own new work (El pescador, Tinc Fred, Mariner, Cors Humils...) musical versions from popular songs and poems.
With a new name, now "Fang i Disbauxa", they abandoned the folk to go back to its electric roots. Specially after they crashed the counterbass being driven at the top of their father car, a tinny SEAT 600. They got into Blues, playing on solos as John Lee Hooker or Big Bill Broonzy and decided to turn on to instrumental.
1971, Josep, Esteve and Joan found a saxophonist called Leandro, a guy impressed by The Road by Kerouac, the icon-book of the Beat Generation, which in Catalan was translated by Manuel de Pedrolo as "Els pòtols místics" or "Els pirats de la Dharma".
On this early years some new faces came and went as Joan Bofill (flute) or Joan Albert, who turned on Joan Fortuny's motivation for the saxo. They shared the scene with Màquina! The band which was considered to be the best rock underground or progressive music band of its time, a label that used to be hanged on groups as Agua de Regaliz, Baf or Bueyes Madereros.
The first festival in which they took part was at Les Palmeres, in Sants district, on June 30, 1972. Together with musicians that also have become big stars as Maria del Mar Bonet, Om, Baf, Fennech, Bueyes Madereros, Slo Blo, Jaume Sisa and Pau Riba.
In that time, Josep, Esteve and Joan really got into hippysm, oriental philosophies countercultural values and underground culture.
Following the example of the hippie communities K1 and K2 from Berlin, Josep wrote a manifest to organize an urban community as a first step towards a rural community. In this project they met Carles Vidal. 1973 was an important year for Dharma. The urban community started working. Carles got into the band as bass player and Joan took the saxo, which sound gave the special unmistakable identity to the band.
May 10, 1973 Pepe Aponte and Victor Jou opened the celebrated Sala Zeleste. This place on the ancient district of Barcelona, held what was called Rock Laietà (Laietan Rock)one of the most fertile music initiatives that the Country has had.
Companyia Elèctrica Dharma and Orquesta Mirasol where the heads of this stream together with some other musicians as Santi Arisa, Arrels, Jordi Sabatés, Sisa and Max Sunyer, to mention only a few.
Already a multi-media band, since on November 10, 1973, the short-film, La Dansa de Moloc, written and cast by the members of the band, won the XIIth National Film Contest of Rotlle del Film Club Manresa.
Soon after, they met Jordi Soley in Malla (Osona) who wanted to join the urban community, which was already full, but he got into the band as piano player.
Thus with Soley, Dharma challenged the composition of a soundtrack for a homage to Picasso in a multivision performance at Picasso Museu on the memory of the first anniversary of his death; and take part as studio musicians for the record Vetlles Al Voltant Del Foc by Jaume Arnella.
Summer 1974, Josep, Esteve, Joan, Carles and Jordi, together with Frances Contra established at Casa Nova of Can Comas, a farm in the north of the country. They worked in handcrafts for living at the same time they arranged a rehearsal room, where they constructed their first album Diumenge, together with the visits of well known musicians as Jaume Sisa, Manel Joseph, Josep Maria París, the piano player Victor Ammann and the flutist Xavier Barenys. In January 1975, the girlfriend of Josep quit the Dharma Community to get into the theatre company Comediants. Josep and Jordi, thinking something failed they also left.
The album, presented on April, had a Jazz, Rock and Free-Jazz influences. As they were loving Miles Davis, Weather Report, John McLaughlin or Wayne Shorter. for example. But just a less than a month after the authors decided it was not what they were looking for and forgot about that album. They didn't like it, they were searching for a more personal sound and at the same time filled with more autochthonous musical tradition.
While L'Oucomballa was the meeting with a peculiar sound based on a most genuine music, Tramuntana meant reaching the mature sound and the consolidation of this investigation and search. This album, presented at Canet Rock Festival in 1976 and published the year after, meant the consecration of the band. They sold 30.000 copies just at the beginning and got really good reviews. The Tour had a great success all over the Spanish State, reaching its climax at Sports Pavillian of Real Madrid in the capital in December 1977.
May 1978 appears the fourth album, L'àngel de la dansa, which they play at Palau dels Esports de Barcelona in front of more than 9.000 people, where Dharma offered an extraordinary performance, but meant the last gig for Jordi Soley, who abandoned the band. They tour around Catalonia, Spain and Italy. Meanwhile, L'Oucomballa and Tramuntana became the top 1 sales albums of Catalan Rock. They edit in Italy where they often appear in magazine covers and TV programs. With this album it's considered they shot closed the Symphonic age of the group.
Towards quite a "Pop" style
Collaboration with Cobla Mediterrània
The Tribal Age
Death of Esteve Fortuny
To be done, soon
In September 1990 CED traveled to Paris to play at the Showcase of MARS. They attended offers from different promoters from USA, Asia and Europe.
USA, April 1991
Elèctrica Dharma crossed the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. They did a series of concerts around the universities of the country, Syracuse, Rochester, Ithaca, Watertown and Elmira.
The North American public had a very positive response as was published by Carlos Agudelo for Billboard Magazine, saying "The music o Companyia Elèctrica Dharma is mature, rich and powerful; calls your attention and plays with senses in a new, delicate and fascinating way. This first time they ended the tour at SOB's in Manhattan (NYC).
Back from the states, on January 11, 1992 they presented Tifa Head at Zeleste in Barcelona. March 1993 it came out Que no es perdi aquest so, an album in which they worked out melodies from Llibre Vermell de Montserrat. This going back to the roots, represented a re-foundation of its sound, closer to what made them popular in the beginning. Through this album they come back to the United States for a second tour in 1993.
In 1992, CED obtained the National Prize of Music by the government of Catalonia.
In 1993 they repeated in Summer Festivals around USA. With also a final closing gig in Manhattan, at the Knitting Factory.
1994 seems to be the most busy year for the band since they sign for the label Picap and re-edit Catalluna. Fortuny brothers and Carles Vidal, as one more brother, prepared in his rehearsal studio, a house at Sagunt street in Sants district, the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of its foundation with a lot of activities, coordinated by Rosa Solsona, Esteve's girlfriend, who managed them until 1995. The most important event that took place was a concert at the Palau Sant Jordi on April 23, playing with 17 different bands and guest singers in front of an audience of up to 20.000 people.
Europe 2000 Decade
At the beginning of the decade of 2000 Dharma did several tours around Europe. They played in countries as Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden. They remember specially the gigs in Croatia where each year they used to perform two or three times, Zagreb or Split, in summer in front of the beach, at the first time, where it didn't feel there had been a war. But next time they came back on winter, crossed the country and they saw the devastation, abandoned towns and misery. Until they got to Split, once again on the beach but snowing and freezing, their coldest concert ever, but full of public.
Some of the most important concerts from these different European tours include:
- Colliure Festival (France)
- Mediator (France)
- Mars Fair (France)
- Nuit Mediterranean (France)
- Matav Kalaka Folk Festival (Hungary)
- Ethno Ambient Festival (Croatia)
- Mediteran Festival (Slovenia)
- Teatr Polski Festival (Poland)
- International Folk Festival (Holland)
- De Oude Ulo Festival (Holland)
- Rock in Rio III (Brazil)
- Split Carnival Festival (Croatia)
- W. Ethno Amb. Fest. at Tvornica (Croatia)
- Festa do Avante in Lisbon (Portugal)
- Wrzesnia Jeleniogórskiego 2001 (Poland)
- Rhodes Summer Festival (Greece)
- Malmö festivalen (Sweden)
- Goteborgskalaset festival (Sweden)
- Ethno Ambient Festival’03 (Croatia)
- 13 ème Fifres de Garonne (France)
- Kalaka Folk Festival (Hungary)
Brazil, January 2001
They played in the biggest festival of the world, with a total audience of around one million people.
They were invited by Carlos de Andrade, owner of Visom Digital. A Brazilian-based record company and promoter who discovered them at a WOMEX in Germany and decided to publish two compilations of their work with the BEST OF LA DHARMA in Brazil.
They have played in Memphis (Tennessee- US) by the river Mississippi. There they did two concerts in 2007 and 2008, during Memphis In May International Festival.
Dharma were invited to play in African lands for a second time. They were invited to play at Festival Au Desert in Mali. They started a collaboration with the group Imarhane from Tamaixek etnia.
It was a very prestigious festival in the World Music style. Right in the middle of the desert, an amazing big camp full of tents (haimas) in different camp areas divided through nationalities, French, Americans... And the stage in the middle.
In 1996 appears the album El ventre de la bèstia, which expresses the frustration towards how the system assimilates every struggle for change.
Two years after, in 1998, they come with Racó de món, where every song is traditional, played and arranged by the present members, except for La filla del marxant, parts of which were arranged by Esteve Fortuny.
In the year 2000 the eighteen Dharma record, Sonada, with sounds from romaní music and others. And new versions of early works. Three years later, the sounds of Rock and medieval music melodies mix at Llibre Vermell, based on an ancient Catalan song book, but playing with contemporary improvisations, the sound of tenora with African rhythms. The old and the new.
This time they make two international Tours, first at Rock in Rio III, in Brazil. And the second one towards South-Africa, achieving for the first time a combination of tenora and imbombo (Catalan and African instruments together). Also they Tour Europe, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Netherlands, Portugal or Sweden.
- Diumenge (1975)
- L'oucomballa (1976)
- Tramuntana (1977)
- L'àngel de la dansa (1978)
- Ordinàries aventures (1979)
- L'Atlàntida (1981)
- Al Palau de la Música amb la Cobla Mediterrània (1982)
- Catalluna (1983)
- Força Dharma! Deu anys de resistència (1985)
- No volem ser (1986)
- Homenatge a Esteve Fortuny (1987)
- Fibres del cor (1989)
- Tifa Head (1991)
- Que no es perdi aquest so (1993)
- 20 anys de Companyia Elèctrica Dharma (1994)
- El ventre de la bèstia (1996)
- Racó de món (1998)
- Sonada (2000)
- Llibre vermell (2002)
- Dharmasseria (2004)
- 30 anys, la Dharma l'arma! (2006)
- El misteri d'en Miles Serra i les musiques mutants (2008)
- Monpou's mood Mariagneta and Patum Jack Blues (2010)
English presentation by the Catalan Government Cultural Department:
Wide review by Barcelona City Council (in Catalan):
English introduction to Catalan music promoted by Catalan Government:
Official web site:
CED Fact Sheet:
A little taste of Dharma Mediterranean Energy, live on their 20th Anniversary celebration:
Companyia Elèctrica Dharma at Rock In Rio festival
CED in South-Africa
Antoni Batista, journalist in La Vanguardia (Catalan international newspaper)
José Luís Rubio, musical journalist at Cambio16 (Spanish newspaper)