Album Reviews

Rodrigo y Gabriela – Re-Foc

(Rubyworks) UK release date: 6 October 2003


Mexicans Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero were guitarists for heavy metal band Tierra Acida, but you’d never know it to hear the delicate – and virtuoso – classical / flamenco / folk / jazz sounds of their new album, Re-Foc (from the Catalan for fire).

Now living in Ireland and helped by Dublin singer-songwriter Damien Rice, they’ve put together an irresistible collection of tracks that combine Latin rhythms, jazz style vocals (courtesy of Zo� Conway, who also adds violin highlights) and subtle percussion.

It’s the sort of music you wish they’d play at your favourite restaurant – and although that may sound dismissive, it isn’t meant to. Of course it would have to be the sort of restaurant where they don’t mind you getting up and dancing now and then… This music is anything but bland, but it’s no surprise to hear that it has featured in a number of films. It is the sort of infectious music that makes you very, very happy.

Foc is one of the most complex tracks, with fiendishly tricky acoustic guitars providing both melody and rhythmic effects. Opening track Diem – a tribute to Dave Mustaine of Megadeth – pairs a gorgeous soft jazz tune with flamenco fireworks.

Every track has its delights. Irish overtones come out in the violin of Georges Street / The Tartar Frigate. The mood is quieter, more reflective in 30 de Marzo, with another lush melody. The pace picks up again with Paris, Robbie Harris adding an array of percussion, cymbals and shakers to create a sound picture that’s more Latin than Latin Quarter.

The Rodrigo y Gabriela version of Take 5 is fascinating, but it’s difficult to improve on the original ground-breaking Dave Brubeck piece – oh well, you can’t win them all.

Closing track Temple Bar is busy, fun and one of the only tracks to allow the double bass of Johnny Daly to come through.

I’d love to hear this pair live – apparently their set in the acoustic tent at Glastonbury was astonishing. In the meantime the album should win them a lot of fans. Give it a go. I promise you won’t be able to keep still.


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