Rodrigo y Gabriela
Area 52


2.5
average

Review

by Deviant STAFF
January 24th, 2012 | 38 replies | 8,759 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Fascinating guitar playing duo take several steps back

In a music world where Carlos Santana can team up with the likes of doe-eyed rock stars such as Rob Thomas and get away it, simply under the pretense of it being just a little exotic and therefore cool, then by the same admission should Rodrigo y Gabriela be a more successful act, if for no other reason than to exist as nothing more than a novelty. It stands to reason then that Rodrigo y Gabriela are simply victims of their own folly, woefully under-marketed when a sound such as theirs should at the least, be intriguing enough to warrant further investigation, and should, with no assistance, be exciting enough to see them getting the attention that they rightfully deserve. But just look at that damn album cover; it sort of makes sense that in the past this gallivanting twosome have riddled their albums with covers and tributes to some of their influences (coincidentally some of the biggest names in rock and metal), perhaps as a way to entice a few more followers, because god knows, in looking at that album cover, that they’re simply not doing themselves any favors in trying to market a sound that, outside of their home country, sounds so wonderfully delicious and thrilling.

And for a group who has managed to successfully fuse Latin-based rapid-fire flamenco guitar playing with more conventional metal arrangements, they’ve still managed to do remarkably well for themselves. They began by playing heavy metal in Mexico City before switching to acoustic and playing around with jazz and Latin instrumentation, travelled around the world as buskers before settling in Dublin, and have since travelled the world again to the tune of over a million records sold. And yet, Rodrigo y Gabriela have always felt as if they were always on the cusp of major success, always one step shy of being truly recognized. In fact, that stigma has doggedly followed them since the beginning of their career, always allowing a few more devotees into the flock but never willing to truly open up the flood gates. 11:11, their last offering, was a deal-breaker of sorts, that saw them playing not at their most refined and complicated but at their most accessible; as a testament to this, their video for ‘Hanuman’ now sits in excess of over a million views on Youtube. No small feat, but again, nothing truly groundbreaking for an outfit who don’t really sound like anything else in the conventional music world.

With 11:11 being the deal-breaker, Area 52 should then be the follow through, the delivery on the promise. Sadly, RyG’s latest offering is nothing more than a re-imagining, a re-working of some of their more popular tunes, now reassembled with the help of a 13-piece Cuban Orchestra (the titular C.U.B.A.) and support from the likes of John Tempesta, Anoushka Shankar and Le Trio Joubran. It’s a bold new approach for the duo, sharing the spotlight with a host of overwhelming talent, and the downfall of all this is that the support ends up doing more harm than good, effectively drowning out the very selling point of the group. The truth of the matter here is that not for a single moment on this album does the music manage to rise above everything that has come before it. ‘Hanuman’, with its percussive slaps and curiously-addicting rock formation is now subdued under a sea of pounding hand drums and blaring horns, to the point where any and all charm is simply forgotten. ‘Juan Loco’ now sounds like the theme music to a badly-dubbed foreign game show, ‘Ixtapa’ now comes complete with sitar accompaniment that just sounds terribly out of place – at its best, Area 52 feels like the soundtrack to a documentary of the land and its music (Cuba Vista Social Club maybe?), at its worst, it’s the salsa section on Dancing With The Stars. It’s technically impressive, there’s no denying the musical acumen of all involved, but all that can really be said about this album is that it’s a nice project that might have been put to better use as a one night only concert, because it’s certainly not the crucial next step in the continued evolution of this otherwise fascinating duo. It unwisely turns the focus away from the tightly coiled and intense guitar playing, and winds up leaving us with something that might resemble the soundtrack to a spy crossing the border action flick: James Bond in a white straw hat running across rooftops maybe?



Recent reviews by this author
Banks GoddessBurial Rival Dealer
Deadmau5 >album title goes here<Mala Mala In Cuba
Four Tet PinkShed The Killer
user ratings (21)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2012



31140 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Old Juan Loco: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTj4XDKXK_g
New: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA3_CYdxdJw

Digging: Banks - Goddess

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2012



7256 Comments


I think you missed a coding error here:

11:11[/, their last offering, was a deal-breaker of sorts

Otherwise, solid stuff as usual Devvie. No niggles this time around =)

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

taylormemer
January 24th 2012



4917 Comments


I saw that like 90 mins ago and thought "nah he should take care of it". Turns out I was wrong. Not good enough.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2012



31140 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Exaggeration, it was like 60 minutes ago

taylormemer
January 24th 2012



4917 Comments


You know, I knew you'd say something like that.

omnipanzer
January 24th 2012



21446 Comments


I hope I disagree with you Dev =^(

Restrikted
January 24th 2012



1889 Comments


Wow haha I thought you quit reviewing

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2012



31140 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I know, it was like a whole 4 weeks or something!

Restrikted
January 24th 2012



1889 Comments


Seemed like an eternity lol

Tyrael
January 24th 2012



20866 Comments


Dev reviews are like air

without it we'll die

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

bloc
January 24th 2012



34839 Comments


Baphomet m/

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 24th 2012



7333 Comments


Good review as ever, though what I've heard from this I think works quite well.

pizzamachine
January 24th 2012



12571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Live in France is better, but come on now this isn't that bad.

patrickfannon
January 24th 2012



886 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"Hanuman’, with its percussive slaps and curiously-addicting rock formation is now subdued under a sea of pounding hand drums and blaring horns, to the point where any and all charm is simply forgotten."

This assessment is true of literally every track on the album. It's not really bad, pizza, it's just really bland and tame. The allure of this band lies in the intimacy between and dynamic playing relationship of both of its memebers. There's no danger or thrill left in these songs once they've been dolled up and dressed to go out dancing.

pizzamachine
January 24th 2012



12571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I'd probably think the same thing if I didn't like Rodrigo y Gabriela so much. This definitely isn't up to their usual standards.

patrickfannon
January 24th 2012



886 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I love them as well. I saw them play at the Tower Theatre in Upper Darby a year or two ago, and they absolutely torched the place. The audience went wild for them, and deservedly so. In all honesty, Dev could have reviewed this as a salsa-tribute to Rodrigo y Gabriela and I would have readily believed it; they effectively buried any trace of their presence in the recording. Also, for some bizarre reason, I did not like hearing Hanuman translated to an electric guitar. It was off-putting.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2012



31140 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Pretty much everything Patrick just said. Plus in all honesty, I just find this to be quite boring, and a lot of it does seem out of place. The electric guitars, the sitar for instance. Just like I said, it seems like it would have been better suited as a one off live performance, not a new album

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2012



6108 Comments


what the why is this not good

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2012



17920 Comments


there instead of their in first paragraph :]

MO
January 24th 2012



18606 Comments


awesome review dev

I really dig this group but if this is just rehashing of their older works for the worse I'm not interested



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy