Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Ojos de Brujo, Techari Live

Ojos de Brujo are a large band from Barcelona that perform a combination of nuevo flamenco, Gypsy, Indian, African, Caribbean, hip hop, rap, and more that I find utterly intoxicating.  Not only do they make music that Techari LiveI could, and often do, listen to all day, they completely control the packaging and production of their music on their own record label.  Rather than release CDs designed to squeeze every last dime out of the buying public they put out lavish productions that reflect their love of the music they make and their desire to share that music in as pleasurable a way as possible with the rest of us.  I love this band.

Following 1999’s Vengue and 2002’s Bari, Ojos de Brujo released their third album of new material, Techari, in 2006.  On December 22nd of the same year they performed the material from the album along with some new tunes at a gig in their home town of Barcelona.  Techari Live presents that concert in two formats, a CD and a DVD.  Although I very much enjoy the CD, I find it the less satisfying of the two.  As often happens in live performance a number of the songs from Techari are played at slightly faster tempos than they are on the studio album which results in the loss of some of the lilt and sway that can make Ojos de Brujo’s music so captivating.  Also, the intensity and power of a live performance from a nine member band augmented by two flamenco dancers and innumerable guests blasts away some of the nuance and subtelty that is present on the studio recordings.  Having said that, the live gig is expertly recorded and mixed so that all of those musical voices can be clearly heard and distinguished.  It’s a masterful recording.  And the band . . .  God in heaven, the band is amazing.

Watching the band perform can greatly enhance one’s appreciation and enjoyment of this music.  There are a lot of musicians working here, they are playing rhythms, counter rhythms, cross rhythms and polyrhythms that are dizzying in their complexity, and all of these guys can count.  The group is so tight they are beyond belief.  They’re playing within rhythmic structures that are so complex and so fast they’re almost impossible to figure out and yet the band will stop, turn and shift gears on a razor’s edge.  Being able to watch them is a great help in keeping track of who is playing what and in separating out the different rhythmic strands.  As if two percussion players, a drummer, a turntablist, and two flamenco guitarists all playing different rhythmic lines weren’t enough the band adds a pair of flamenco dancers for even more rhythmic goodness.  They do one number where spitfire rapper Maxwell Wright and flamenco dancer Susi Medina carry out a vocal-foot percussion dialogue that begins with them trading eights and shifts to trading fours and then twos at a speed and complexity that has to be seen and heard to be believed.  Another highlight is the duet between Ojos de Brujo’s spectacular vocalist Marina Abad and guest vocalist Martirio on “Todo Tiende”.  Those are two great moments but there are many, many more.  Time after time this band will stop you dead in your tracks and leave you awestruck.  These guys can really play.

Although the CD and DVD contain the same songs (for the most part, there are a couple of extra studio tracks on the CD) the sequencing is different on each which is a nice touch because they provide different listening experiences.  The DVD features surround sound but it is not recorded in either DVD-Audio or SACD.  In addition the DVD has a documentary on the making of “Techari”, a short on putting the gig together, and a collection of the videos they made for tunes on the album including the terrific video for “Sultanas de Merkaillo”.

As can be heard on the Barcelona Zona Bastarda compilation, Barcelona is currently the home of an exceptionally vibrant and creative music scene and Ojos de Brujo is one of its leaders.  They are are an extraordinary band that has put out one excellent album after another.  Techari Live is no exception and by also providing a visual record of the concert on DVD Ojos de Brujo gives us another way to enjoy their joy-infused and celebratory music.  Highly recommended.

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04/28/2008 - Posted by | CD reviews, DVD reviews, music, music reviews | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Great review, a really good read. Thanks

    Comment by Flamenco dancer | 02/05/2009 | Reply


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