“You sound more like a rocker than a folklorist.” The mother of Marián and Chango Farías Gómez, looked at him crossed Ica Novo. He made her pay the toll for being late for the barbecue. the Cordovan musician he had been playing the previous night at a bowling alley in the Córdoba neighborhood and had fallen after 5 p.m., just as the guitar was being assembled. We’ve always known it, Ica had its own internal clock. He entered and sat in the middle of Marián Farías Gómez and Julio Paz and Roberto Cantos of the Coplanacu duo. At one point, Marián asked him to accompany her on the bass drum. Once again, the mother of the Farías Gómez family came out at the intersection. “How, with two people from Santiago present, are you going to ask a man from Cordoba to play the bass drum?” Ica Novo, born Dean Funes, raised in a family of musicians and poetsa disciple of Creole swing who had learned from Adolfo Abalos on the piano, left home so angry and frustrated that as he walked down the street he imagined a response in the form of revenge.
On the way to his mother’s house, the complete music and the first verses of a chacarera that would become a flag reached him: “In Santiago the chacarera has the grace that the fish has in the sea, but listen to this one that I bring from the bottom of the north of Cordoba”. Two years later, “Del norte cordobés” circulated in peñas and guitars. The first to record it were Los Carabajal, icons of the chacarera lineage of Santiago. One way or another, the revenge of the Cordovan author had been fulfilled. With the same theme, Ica Novo was dedicated to the folk festival of Cosquín in 1992. Four years later, a 16-year-old girl named Soledad will definitely make it a popular classic. From then on, the name of the composer will become the synonymous with a new song in folklore.
Ica Novo died at the age of 70 in Cordoba and left a legacy of works that settle in the feelings of fans of popular music: “From the north of Córdoba”, “Zamba comme avant”, “Chasing the wind”, “Serenatero de bombos”, “La repiqueteada” , “Argentina Malambo”, “I only play the bass drum” and “Chacarera de Ischilín”. They recorded it from Mercedes Sosa to Peteco Carabajal. “Del norte cordobés”, with about sixty versions recorded in Sadaic, was even sung by a children’s choir in India for Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who asked for an encore of the theme.
The news of his death was given by his younger sister, María Elena. “My heart is broken, after fighting her like a champion, my beloved brother Ica Novo left this world. My older brother, the one who taught me to listen to good music, made me a fan of Los Andariegos, Los Nocheros de Anta, among others, and the one who made me discover the activism in Peronism. All of this sucked into our home, with a father with exquisite taste in music and a militant Peronist mother. Ica, you are eternal in us who love you,” he wrote on his official Facebook account on Tuesday morning.
Julio Paz, singer, drummer, founding member of the duo Coplanacu and friend of those early years in an effervescent Córdoba of 90s folklore remembers this bohemian era. “Ica it was a motor, a generator of changebut also someone who had a deep look at traditional things, above, a very sharp look at this story. Walking on tradition, he made a projection of this music. He was also a generator of ideas like young rock. We took an article about what Ica did with Bicho Díaz from the first young peña de Cosquín, in the Spanish Society. But the best memory is when we got together to sing when he came back from Spain. We sang in a peña, a bar or at someone’s house. We were very nice. One day he showed up at 7am. I don’t know where he comes from and he showed me the first part of ‘Zamba como las de antes’ and I thought it was magnificent. Then we recorded it with Coplanacu”.
It was the 90s. It was the time when everyone was singing and dancing their chacareras and zambas. “I think part of the success is that they are songs composed by a dancer, for dancers,” he said in an interview. Ica Novo was one of the authors who made a modern and innovative timbre, a gesture of different brilliance in the concept of folk: lyrics that were fundamentally based on a popular language and a dancing feeling, but which had a reference to those who had shaped it, such as the Abalos brothers, Carlos Di Fulvio and Eduardo Lagos.
He was part of a Cordovan musical brotherhood, hippie and memorable, in the mid-1980s, when he returned home after spending ten years in Spain. He lives in community with other musicians and participates in a whole atmosphere of Creole experimentation, between tradition and electric sounds, left by groups like the MPA. He also joins a new current of dancers without the choreographic ties of the conservatory. Ica Novo took that renewed impulse of creation and youthful spirit that roamed the streets of Cordoba and turned it into a terrain to develop his new ideas in dance and music. “All my life I have tried to merge the sounds and experiences of a world with our codes, in our language. But I also looked for spaces where our music was naturally danced. I think the first peñas, which were very participative and with a lot of youth, were made by us, in Cosquín, in 1995. We moved the tables back so that they could dance; it is one of the most important meeting rites. The idea is not to establish a vertical relationship of art between inspiration and realization, but to extend it”.
Ica Novo was part of a line of artists such as Raúl Carnota or Chango Farías Gómez himself, who created new rules of the game for popular music, where the semantic discussion between what is and is not folklore has always been turned off in front of his work. Ica Novo, great refuter of these discourses, sometimes even provocative in his sentences, and with an erratic discography, but who always offered a new musical adventure, liked to flee labels. “I am a mixture of rural and urban areas; earth, sky, metal and wood; analog and digital. Although it is good to adhere to something. Belonging is important to have a language from which to translate to others,” he told journalist Mauro Apicella in 2003.
Ica Novo, singer, composer, guitarist, dancer and architecture student, translated the sonic DNA of his village with his own codes, and told it to the world in zambas and chacareras.