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Rodrigo y Gabriela - Re-foc


Review: Jack Foley

I THINK I have said before that I am a sucker for some flamenco guitar, so the prospect of listening to an album full of it was always going to be a mouthwatering one.

Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero - both from Mexico City - made a name for themselves on the Irish live scene, blowing audiences over with their virtuoso guitar playing.

With the help of critically-acclaimed Dublin-based singer, Damien Rice, the pair recorded the album, Re-Foc, to create a sound that tempers perfectly with the intricate Latin rhythms.

And the ensuing collection of eight songs effortlessly conjures images of Mexico, while also tipping its sombrero to the multitude of other influences that have influenced the duo down the years.

Track one, Diem, for instance, is dedicated to Megadeth's Dave Mustaine, while the presence of Zoë Conway, of the Irish Chamber Orchestra, on violin at several points adds plenty of that Emerald Isle spirit to proceedings.

And given that the album was recorded in a flat on a mobile studio, the sound quality is excellent, with every chord of the Spanish guitars sounding as crisp and as vibrant as though it were being played live, and in your room.

The album is at its liveliest and best, however, when the energy levels are picked up, and the backing comes courtesy of a bongo, shakers and cajón.

It is then that the album wouldn't sound of out of place as an accompanying soundtrack to one of Robert Rodriguez's Desperado movies.

Track two, New One, with its slight female backing vocals, also evokes memories of the Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid soundtrack, particularly during the film's Mexican stages, while Paris surely contains a nod to Mike Oldfield's Spanish guitar section of Tubular Bells, while also stopping off for a nice bongo interlude.

Not everything works as well as it might, it's true, but I can't help but be seduced by the sound of some quality Spanish guitar, and this delivers in spades.

It is a worthy reminder of why this musical form is so highly regarded in its own right, rather than being used as a sample to accompany some tacky pop song.

I would heartily recommend Re-Foc to anyone, but especially if you have listened to and fallen in love with the energetic strains of a Spanish/Flamenco guitar.

Track listing:
1. Diem
2. New One
3. Foc
4. Georges Street/The Tartar Frigate
5. 30 De Marzo
6. Paris
7. Take 5 [Foc-ing Version 9]
8. Temple Bar

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