Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rodrigo y Gabriela Area 52



Rodrigo y Gabriela Area 52 (CD+DVD)

It's 2012 and Rodrigo y Gabriela continue to weave their unique six string magic. From the haciendas of Cuba to the Hollywood Bowl, and from the festival fields of Europe to the multiplexes of America. Their motto - “have guitar will travel” made real as their music travels the airwaves of the world and reaches new ears and touches new hearts.
ATO Records is excited to announce the release of the new studio album by Rodrigo y Gabriela. Entitled Area 52, the record was produced by the legendary Peter Asher and will come out on January 24, 2012. Area 52 contains nine of Rod and Gab's favorite songs from their own catalogue re-arranged and re-configured for a 13-piece Cuban orchestra comprised of some of Havana's finest young players, collectively known as C.U.B.A. This two-disc set includes a 30-minute 'making-of' documentary on DVD.

Area 52 was mixed by Rafa Sardina, one of the leading studio musicians in the Latin music world, and arranged by London-based pianist, composer and arranger Alex Wilson. Recording took place in the Miramar district of Havana, Cuba, at Abdala Studios, founded by the Cuban folk hero Silvio Rodriguez, as well as at Rod and Gab s studio in Ixtapa, Mexico. Other players on the record include: bassist Carles Benavent (Paco De Lucia, Chick Corea, Miles Davis), drummer John Tempesta (The Cult, Testament, White Zombie), sitarist Anoushka Shankar and drummer Samuel Formell (Los Van Van).

With career sales in excess of 1.2 million albums, blockbuster movie scores, sell out world tours that span London to Los Angeles, Paris to Tokyo and Dublin to Sydney, and not forgetting the love and respect of fellow musicians like Metallica, Rage Against The Machine, Al Di Meola and L Shankar, Rodrigo y Gabriela have worked hard to reach Area 52.

Just WOW!

For those who are looking at the track listing and thinking, "I already have most of those songs on other discs," NO YOU DON'T! Not like this. C.U.B.A. changes everything. Dramatically.

The addition of the horns and percussion really cranks up the energy level of this duo's music in a big way. It also demonstrates something interesting about their music: the "Latin-ness" of it has always been there, but in way that was less recognizable. Hearing it in the context of a distinctly Latin Rumba Cubana band, it seems obvious that many these songs were always salsa- and rumba-style songs, but performed in a way came across differently. Now, hearing the Latin percussion and the blaring, sassy horns, this stuff actually makes you want to dance!

But, it's not just the energy level of the music that impresses: this album also demonstrates a level of musical maturity that hasn't necessarily been expressed in most of their previous work. There is a breadth and depth here that I haven't heard from them before now. The music has strong, well-arranged jazz elements. And there are surprises. For example, an extended, very soulful sitar solo by guest musician Anoushka Shankar on Ixtapa. It's beautiful, and fits naturally with this version of the song. Lots of other guests grace this disc, too many to list, just suffice it to say that everyone who contributed contributed well, and the music as a whole benefits by the contributions of all of the musicians.

All of these other instruments and musicians do not, however, diminish the prominence of Rod and Gab's playing. Rather, they enhance and amplify it with texture, context, syncopation and band interaction, precisely as a good band should.

The entire album is very well mixed and engineered. You might expect this to be a problem, given that all they had to deal with in the past was two guitars. But everything comes through very well, and the "big" parts are all coherent and clear.

This is definitely their best album yet, in my opinion.

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