Review Summary: One of the Coolest Bands You've Never Heard of.
Many people who are fairly particular about the music they listen to will tell you that it is truly rare to find a band that actually does something original. While this is true there is an underlying assumption in this statement; that it is even rarer to find an original band that is actually worth hearing. I can think of countless groups that are hailed as "ground-breaking" or the ever popular "next big thing" that wind up being novel wastes of time. Fortunately, Spanish flamenco collective, Ojos De Brujo (Eyes of the Wizard) does not fall into this latter category. The eight-piece plays a virtually self-created genre of music they call "flamenco fusion" which while deeply rooted in the Spanish folk tradition of flamenco (i.e. rhythmic acoustic strumming, smooth, passionate vocals, and North African influenced percussion) also freely mixes in elements of funk, hip hop, rock, and world music.
It was actually my fascination with metal that put the band's name in my head through their stellar collaboration with French art-metallers, Hacride. I figured any group that was willing to do something so inventive was at least worth checking out. As a person who generally listens to rock, metal, and progressive genres looking into of a group of this kind is about as out of character as a reviewer can get, and yet there is something so intrinsically alluring about the collective's sound that it forces one to put aside taste preconceptions. In a sense, Ojos De Brujo can be considered a mainstream acceptable band with their hooky choruses, hip-shaking rhythmic zest, and captivating, sultry vocals of front woman, Marina Abad, but at the same time I can't think of a single band I hear on the radio that is as technical, and quirkily virtuosic as these Spaniards. It's pop music that refuses to be poppy. It's easy enough to let their immense grooves and carefree flow envelop you in a ray of Mediterranean sunlight, but if you actually listen closely you can hear firecrackering rhythms bursting constantly and a revolving door of parts and different instruments working in a furious state of flux.
While the group's more traditional samba tunes are very well done touched with their own creative spice in the form of turn-table accents, and more modern instrumentation, its really the tracks that journey out of their comfort zone that standout most. The opener, “Color” gets the festivities started with a staggered funk beat, swirling horns, and a barrage of latin percussion. The track itself feels like "tech-dance" music in that its' groovy enough to salsa to but complex enough to throw any one with a faulty sense of rhythm into a tizzy with its spazzy stop-start breakdowns. Two of the songs that show the band's versatility best are “Corre Lola” which takes on a lax reggae feel with snaking bass lines, and the gorgeous “Todo Tiende” which has stunning almost Indian vocal melodies and guitar parts. As mentioned before there is a fair amount of rapping on the album namely on “El Confort No Reconforta” and “Feedback” and while I'm generally not a fan of it in Spanish music, it works very well here thanks to Marina's sensual delivery, tender emotive choruses, and the bevy of guest vocalists that keep things interesting.
Needless to say Ojos De Brujo is not for everyone, however for a person with tastes as particular as mine to be able to enjoy this wonderfully unique group speaks volumes to both their creativity and accessibility, even as a band that plays a such an unusual style. Techari, all together is a highly diverse and realized work by a group that truly defies categorization for all the right reasons.