Rodrigo y Gabriela. The name really says it all: two Mexican musicians who stand tall as a duo, playing an inspired brand of flamenco guitar with heavy metal influences. It is a collaboration that has drawn international acclaim for Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero.
For Area 52, the duo, with a guitar case of their own previously released compositions, traveled to Cuba to re-imagine them with a 13-piece orchestra dubbed C.U.B.A. The duoâ€™s compositions are unquestionably cast into a new light with the vivid orchestration; however, while the effort brims with spice and flare, the magic of the duo â€“ Rodrigoâ€™s fleet-fingered leads and Gabrielaâ€™s percussive rhythmic playing â€“ is diluted in the mix. â€œIxtapaâ€ is a stand-out, and â€œ11:11â€ draws from a well-spring of passion, but the grandiose â€œSanto Domingoâ€ and the busy â€œTamacunâ€ seem excessive.
Rodrigo y Gabriela exude talent, and Area 52 is a testament to their songwriting and compositional zeal. It is a worthy experiment, albeit one that creates a yearning for the stripped down, original versions of these tracks.
Area 52 is out now on ATO Records.