Rodrigo y Gabriela - Area 52
Orchestral backing and lots of special guests leads to a fun if over-wrought latin-funk-rock record
For their fifth studio album the Mexican acoustic rock duo have teamed up with 13-piece orchestra C.U.B.A. to rework nine previous compositions. The radically increased personnel (which is also augmented by several guests including Cuban folk legend Silvio Rodriguez, plus the daughter-of-Ravi, and sister of Norah, Anoushka Shankar on sitar, Cult drummer John Tempesta, Miles Davis’ former jazz bassist Carles Benavent and Palestinian group Le Trio Joubran) gives Rodrigo y Gabriela’s already frenetic, genre-fusing instrumental workouts a big, bonkers sound that propels them into the realm of the ridiculous. There’s no denying the skill on display here, but the very Latin fusion of funk, rock and jazz is so over-wrought it does put one in mind of that other musical duo, the never-entirely serious Tenacious D. Area 52’s fun, though.