Ojos de Brujo: Girando Bari

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Ojos de Brujo
Girando baritone (Touring baritone)
Diquela Records

Ojos de Brujo may explode, implode or simply vaporize, depending on the vagaries of market forces and the challenges of keeping a collective alive, but one thing I can guarantee you with 100% certainty: this band will never sell out. Pop music icons sometimes do fall to temptation—Snoop Dogg has been hawking Chrysler and Flava Flav is pushing Miller Lite—but these Spanish outcats are not for sale. Period. Ojos de Brujo belong to themselves, not the Man.

Girando baritone (which means both "Touring" and "Spinning baritone") presents the Barcelona collective in performance at home and on the road, playing pieces from their 2004 international debut, baritone, and more. Building upon the home-grown sounds of flamenco that run in their blood, Ojos de Brujo ("Eyes of the Wizard") have thrown the doors wide open to hip-hop, funk, rumba, punk, Indian music, and various other rhythm-intensive sounds.

But this is far more than your typical global fusion: first and foremost, it's a celebration of identity in the modern world, embracing youth and possibility, individuality and responsibility, using one of the freshest and most openly polyglot musical idioms yet to be invented on planet Earth. This is an absolutely stunning hunk of metal, not just because the music is great—which it is, and it's recorded with ball-busting intensity and crisp attention to detail. But within just a few minutes of watching the band on stage, it's pretty clear that these musicians are about ten thousand times better live than on record. At least when they're on fire, which they seem to be often enough.

Although the main performance comes from a November, 2004 show in Barcelona—home is where the heart is!!—various segments from several other international locations are surreptitiously tossed into the mix, and after a few minutes you'll find yourself scratching your head when the performers seemingly change clothes and hats mid-song, sometimes every few seconds. But the quick changes are artfully done and convey a sense of overall continuity, despite the shifty, trippy effect.

Vocalist Marina "La Canillas" Abad, dressed in various flamboyant gypsy costumes, has an utterly commanding stage presence, whether singing soleá, rapping at full speed, trading rhythmic phrases with other singers, or accenting the instrumentalists on the fly. During this unfortunate era of featherweight juvenile pop divas, it's refreshing to see a real woman on stage who can sing with soul and be outrageously anti-conformist without becoming cartoonish in the process. (Especially when her "pretty cousin," sometimes dressed in a skin-tight dress, serves up simultaneous drama and motion with on-stage flamenco dance.)

The other members of the group, about ten strong, play guitars, keys, turntables, and percussion (lots and lots, of all kinds) in a spontaneous, interactive, enthusiastic fashion. DJ Panko serves as a kind of glue at times, introducing textures and scratches that bridge passages, but he also has a wild and unpredictable side. Guitarists Ramón Giménez and Paco Lomeña are the most obvious guardians of the flamenco flame, though they twist it in all directions. Grafitti artists at either side of the stage craft mind-bending paintings in real time as the music progresses.

The DVD extras are all worth seeing: an hour-long documentary showing the day-to-day activities of the band on tour; four creative music videos; and an interview with the ONG collective (including graffiti shots). They place the music in perspective personally, visually, politically, and artistically. But you'll find yourself returning to the main stage for the concert footage again and again. This film is for all time.

With one international release, a remix collection, and now this concert video/documentary, Ojos de Brujo really need to write some new songs and put out a new record, but all in a day's work. Or a month, or a year... whatever it takes, chances are it'll be worth it.

Production Notes

Girando baritone (2005, 210 minutes, color, NTSC/all regions)
Produced by Diquela Records and Arco y Flecha
Live Concert: 94 minutes (17 tracks)
ODB Documentary: Touring the Beat: 61 minutes
DVD Extras: four music videos, ONG interview
Language: Spanish. Subtitles: Spanish, Catalán, French, English.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1

Tracks: Intro; Funk Flamenco; Vacileo; Tanguillo de Maria, Naita, Buleria de Ay!; Tiempo de Soleá; VR-80; Acción Reacción Repercusión; Zambra; Memorias Perdias; Tahita; Na en la Nevera; Kien Engaña No Gana; Calé baritone; Poliuretano; Karakasekete.


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