Artist: Rodrigo y Gabriela
Title: “Area 52″
Format: NPR First Listen (Spotify)
Recorded mostly in Havana with a 13-piece Cuban orchestra, “Area 52″ culls works from “11:11″ and 2006’s self-titled platter and recasts them in a new light.
C.U.B.A. augments Rodrigo and Gabriela, but adds an element that turns these from dazzling displays of acoustic guitar work into full-fledged rock ensembles.
It’s interesting to hear these songs “filled out” and it was an experiment that a group consisting of a talented flamenco guitar duo had to try. It’s also an experiment that tampers with the element that provides Rodrigo and Gabriela their mystique. Furthermore, by revisiting old arrangements instead of making new ones, it feels less like innovation than an effort to rebrand themselves.
That said, one hopes they decide to take this show on the road, where it might be allowed more vibrancy and relevance.
What amounts to a novelty in their catalog, “Area 52″ will be divisive to fans of the duo.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.