A dear friend of mine played me some Rodrigo y Gabriela a couple of years ago, and I was absolutely overtaken by the beauty. The opportunity to see them live (as I've actually only ever heard live recordings before) is just so incredible.
This album contains nine of the duo's favorite songs, rearranged to include the Cuban orchestra, C.U.B.A. This is the first studio collaboration with another group of musicians for the pair. The album title is said to describe this "trip into the unknown" for the group as a whole - since melding their sounds was something no one knew what to expect in the end.
Apparently, the results were amazing, and I'm excited to dive on in - here's the trailer released for the album!
"Hanuman" does a little bit more with the strings in the lead at the start, then going into a wildly moving guitar with a flute. That guitar actually comes across as a little muffled, just because I think you know it's being plucked, but it's too fast to hear the full sound. Just something a little off there. The Carlos Santana-esq electric guitar coming in was unexpected and definitely appreciated though. Talk about taking this album to even different heights.
Here's where I think maybe the fear was realized. If I remember right, the original RyG tracks were so gorgeous in this hypnotizing way, and the stillness and subtleties are what made certain songs tug at your heartstrings just that much more. Sitting here, listening to "Ixtapa," I'm realizing that the Cuban element included may have brought just too much spice to the overall songs. There is a romantic notion to the track, especially once the citar comes into play, but there's just a constant beat going that doesn't totally allow your heart to slow down and feel it for a minute.
There's brilliance strewn throughout "11:11," complete with gorgeous piano trills, guitars literally singing, and a movement that is completely capturing. This fast pace isn't as jaunting as it has been, because the entire group takes on slower movements and feelings together, finally. If you've never heard Spanish guitar before, you're missing out. It's one of the most romantic sounds I can ever place in my mind, and will completely take you over. Here is also the first place we get some vocals on the album, most definitely down the more naturalistic path than anywhere else.
It feels like the guitar is finally taking back control of the band, while allowing others to get featured throughout, for "Diablo Rojo." I mean, there are some great breaks for steel drum, then piano, later the flute, and then the strings join together to create this awesome tension that explodes a little while after. There's a damn awesome party going on onstage throughout this thing - how they managed to contain it all in one studio, I may never know.
"Logos" managed to catch me completely off-guard. It's started with this classic piano that was a better fit for the 20's or so, not necessarily this album, but works all the same. About a minute in, that and the guitar start up together and form this incredible, dream-like pattern together, and slowly pick up with the drum beat. The changes in mode are just like a long classical piece would call for, but in an entirely enthralling way of sound. This is just amazing and captivating.
The pace is picked up for a Cuban dance instead with "Juan Loco." Everything here builds up and up, and the whole band body is utilized, not really giving a moment's pause at any point. I'm not saying it's good or bad, just something on in the background that may or may not appeal at any given moment.
The final song, "Tamacun" does about the same actually. Everyone's gearing toward the end, and they're letting loose to close things out. There are steady beats going from each halve's unique perspective, bringing everything they have left to give to the music of the album. It's a good, powerful close out.
Spotify has this nifty new little feature where I can share my playlist with you, so here's the songs I pulled from this album as my favorites!
Added to my Playlist: