Following on from their popular album, 11:11, Rodrigo y Gabriela’s forceful fast-paced riffing style returns in what can only be described as a funk-filled full-orchestral waltz, following in the footsteps of their Latin American jazz-funk lineage. If that’s too much of a mouthful to swallow, you really shouldn’t attempt to recite the names of the 13 members of Havana’s finest collective, known as C.U.B.A., who have helped to make this new album an aural sensation.
For a duo that began in Mexico City’s thrash metal scene, their latest work is a brave leap out of their comfort zone, which could be categorised by a love for disjointed, rapid acoustic guitar work. The extravagant mix of influences represented in Area 52 begins to really set Rodrigo y Gabriela up as possible world music titans. They have become an impressive double-act willing to experiment with a vibrant assortment of Cuban and African influences.
The dazzling riffs of Santo Domingo, the opening track, echo the duet’s past efforts, backed by a fast-paced Afro-Cuban bembe drumming. The album shows a variety of influences, from the salsa treatment of Hanuman through to the brass chimes that give tracks like Logos a feeling of grandiosity.
Area 52 is a fun journey through a maze of musical influences and a masterful reworking of some of Rodrigo y Gabriela’s classic work. Although it succeeds in breathing new life into their original work, part of me was left wanting more original material from the duo themselves.
Nevertheless, this is a great piece of work.
Area 52 is out now
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