Rodrigo Y Gabriela - Area 52 (Ruby Works)

An alternative take on some of their past songs.

Released Feb 21st, 2012 via Rubyworks / By Alex Yau
Rodrigo Y Gabriela - Area 52 (Ruby Works) Dublin based Mexican duo Rodrigo Y Gabriella’s (aka Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero) vibrant fusion of metal and flamenco has never been short of vibrant or exhilarating but Area 52 takes everything to an entirely new level. Sanchez and Quintero delve deep into nine tracks of their back catalogue, and with help from 13-piece orchestra C.U.B.A and bassist Carles Benavent (Miles Davis), they add a refreshing and explosive new touch to them. Area 52 is far from a simple covers album.

‘Santo Domingo’ ignites a propulsive start. Skittering jazz guitars race along frenzied percussion as swelling brass sections add fuel to the track’s burning pace. With such multi layered texture and so many phrases happening at once, it’s easy for any band to lose themselves in a whirlwind of self-indulgence. Rodrigo Y Gabriella thankfully don’t and their partnership with C.U.B.A makes for one eye opening listen. ‘Hanuman’ follows on and accelerates into a sleek guitar solo that conjures images of Carlos Santana hyped up on speed. Further on ’11:11’s snapping guitars are so catchy, it’s difficult not to click your fingers in unison. Then there’s ‘Master Maqui’ which is a testament to their virtuoso guitar skills. If guitars could dance, the latter’s would be the most hypnotic with its scattergun approach.

‘Logos’ only provides a rare calm moment before the whirlwinds of ‘Juan Loco’ and closing track ‘Tamacun’ arrive and sweep everything in their way. The former drives itself upon a sensual, weaving rhythm whilst the latter rushes with a mesmerising jazz piano and Latin infused guitar partnership. Despite its grandiose scale, Area 52 never fails to confuse in the process. It’s bewitching to hear each intricate and awe inspiring instrument work effortlessly and these reworked versions of older tracks may just be the best yet.