Ojos de Brujo
Barcelona natives Ojos de Brujo have been gradually gaining recognition for their summery Spanish folk songs, which encompass flamenco, as well as Celtic influences. With this record though, they have stepped up their game even further.
It may not seem like it initially, but Techari is undoubtedly an album made for the city, the city in question being Barcelona, and it seeps through every single note of the music. The big cosmopolitan melting-pot is lovingly represented on this album, with traditional Spanish rhythms and flamenco guitars present on most of the tracks, but they are fused with hip-hop, jazz, bhangra and funk, a celebration of cultural hybridity, the ultimate two fingers to the xenophobes.
The Indian bhangra influence is present on tracks like "Todo liente" with its swift tabla and Indian vocal ululations by singer Marina "la Canillas". It also features "Cyber" from Britain's own Asian Dub Foundation. "Feedback" is another example of Ojos de Brujo's ability to fuse different styles to create a unique sound. It features the Mercury Prize-winning Nitin Sawhney, and other Indian musicians who create an undulating sheen over the flamenco backing. A New Orleans style piano phrase introduces itself to the mix and all this is underpinned by a human beatbox. This track is a good summary of the album as a whole, a real mixture of different sounds and cultures thrown in together, and it works extremely well.
Interestingly, Techari is Romany for "free", which is an apt way to describe this record. The instrumentation on every track is so rich that new aspects reveal themselves on every listen, it is too much to take in all at once. This is why the music sounds so free, because the band are tight, but still sound like they're having fun and aren't afraid to improvise.
There is also a big hip-hop influence on Techari with scratches and samples making occasional appearances. "Runali" is probably the best hip-hop track, with its slow-burning traditional flamenco backing and hip-hop beats, and includes a star-turn from Senegalese MC Daara J.
It's fair to say that a lot of English-speaking people won't go for this because the arrogantly-monikered "world music" is usually seen as being exclusively reserved for Geography teachers, hippies and Damon Albarn, but if you give it a chance, it will reveal a lot to you. Firstly, that when you can't necessarily understand the lyrics, it helps you appreciate how the voice can be used as an instrument in its own right. Marina "la Canillas" is amazing on this record, her chameleon-like voice taking on folk, bhangra and rap, and performing all brilliantly. Secondly, this record will show you that cultural hybridity is a thing to be celebrated, so instead of buying the Daily Mail on your trip into town, buy this instead; it is much more rewarding and contains a lot more truth and integrity.
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