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The title of this album means "freedom," and if one word could be used to describe Ojos de Brujo's outernational outlook, that would be it. The Spanish band's deep and unflinching roots in the flamenco idiom have somehow prevented its ever-expanding scope from losing focus, which makes ODB something of a rare species in the misnomered world of "global fusion." Perhaps the ancient-to-future outlook of these modern gypsies could only have happened in a singular place like Barcelona, which is similarly situated on the leading cusp of deep tradition.
The fourteen songs on Ojos de Brujo's fourth album are oriented toward multicultural embrace, incorporating musical elements from rumba to punk and hip-hop with characteristic abandon. Flamenco song translates well into the hip-hop idiom (most evident in the electronic production, scratches and rap-like lyrics on some of these songs). Likewise, the rhythms of flamenco, rooted in hand-clapping and dance, find long-lost siblings in the detailed interplay of Indian music (there's a bit of this secretly buried at the end of the last track). Closer to home, perhaps, the Afro-Cuban tradition seems to echo in the weirdest way through rumba Catalana.
Maria "La Canillas" Abad's edgy voice stands out from the start, combining gypsy rawness with powerful, soaring melodicism. On "Silencio," her lyrics dwell on lost innocence, humility and reconciliation, somewhat enigmatically wrapped up in a festive Andalusian combination of hand claps, guitars, drums and multiple percussion. (The accompanying CD-ROM translates all the lyrics into fifteen relevant languages, and they are worth checking out. It's also got videos, photos and more.)
In a departure from the group's previous work on record, over a dozen special guests grace Techari, lending voices, guitar, percussion, horns and more. Their musical input seems to flow seamlessly into the already hybridized group sound.
It makes sense that this album was recorded in the middle of two 2005 international tours, because it's got the same sense of spontaneity the group is known for in live performance. Once "Bailaores" kicks in just about halfway through, you'd better be on your feet, or at the very least swaying gently in your head.
Track Listing: Color; Sultanas De Merkaïlo; Todo Tiende; Runali; Comfort No Reconforta; Tanguillos
Marineros; Silencio; No Somos Máquinas; Bailaores; Corre Lola Corre; Feedback; Piedras vs.
Tanques; Respira; Nana.
Personnel: Marina "La Canillas": voice; Panko: keyboard, scratch; Ramón Giménez: flamenco guitar; Xavi
Turull: cajón, tabla, congas, percussion; Sergio Ramos: drums, cajón; Maxwell Wright:
percussion, voice; Paco Lomeña: flamenco guitar; Javi Martin: bass. Guests: Pepe Habichuela,
Martirio, Raúl Rodriguez, Faada Freddy, Prithpal Raiput "Cyber," Roberto Carcasses, Juan
Padrón, Carlos Sarduy, Regi Molina, Juan Carlos Martin, Nitin Sawhney, Satyajit Talwalkar,
Rajinder Singh, Denys Hernández "El Huevo."