sat 04/07/2020

CD: Rodrigo y Gabriela - 9 Dead Alive | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Rodrigo y Gabriela - 9 Dead Alive

CD: Rodrigo y Gabriela - 9 Dead Alive

Mexican guitar slingers' fifth is all about their pin-sharp interplay

Rodrigo y Gabriela, a swirl of wild strumming

The career of Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero is an anomaly. It’s heartening that such curveballs occur, with artists taking an alternative, individual route to success. To those with any rock’n’roll romance left, it’s a sign that, even in these ADD., Tweet-trending, homogenous times, there are still unexpected ways for atypical acts to sustain a career. The pair were metal-loving Mexican teens who became virtuoso acoustic Dublin street buskers, leading to an Irish hit album and, eventually, a global career that’s seen them working on Hollywood blockbusters. Appealingly, they fit no pop or rock stereotype. Even their relationship with each other is somewhat mysterious.

9 Dead Alive consists of nine tracks, each dedicated to a hero of the duo (well, apart from “Torito”, which is in honour of “animals and nature”). The meat is, as ever, provided by expert acoustic guitar-playing and finger-thumping percussion. Subscribers to magazines such as Total Guitar, Guitar Player, Guitar World, Guitarist, and so on, will relish this album, as they should all Rodrigo y Gabriela’s work. There’s no doubt that their extraordinary duelling, wherein finessed technique crashes into fiery Hispanic jams, is in and of itself amazing. That said, those after actual tunes may be less thrilled.

9 Dead Alive rolls along enjoyably, but only two tracks truly stand out: “Sunday Neurosis” (for psychologist Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl), which builds and builds before giving way to Pink Floyd-ish space and echo and a disembodied voice suggesting, “If you were a buffalo you will be really thinking God is a huge buffalo,” and the superb “Megalopolis” (for the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean writer and thinker Gabriela Mistral), a lovely lament built around revolving plucked motifs redolent of serialism. There is much else to enjoy – for example the folk dance flavours of the final two cuts, “The Russian Messenger” (for Dostoevsky) and “La Salle Des Pas Perdus” (for Medieval monarch Eleanor of Aquitaine) – but Rodrigo y Gabriela’s fifth studio album is mostly about mood and sparkling interplay rather than individual memorable pieces.

Overleaf: Watch a mini-documentary about the making of 9 Dead Alive

Their extraordinary duelling, where finessed technique crashes into fiery Hispanic jams, is in and of itself amazing

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3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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