Rodrigo y Gabriela: “11:11”
Most instrumental guitar music tends to be about the guitar first, the music second; the demographic is like-minded practitioners, technicians who can readily appreciate the technical finesse and dexterous complexity on display, but not necessarily for the lay person who simply wants a melody, a beat, or a groove. Not so with Rodrigo y Gabriela; though there’s technical finesse aplenty here, and it takes multiple listens to unravel the many layers of what’s going on in the arrangements, this isn’t your typical guitar record. Your first clue: The presence of producer Colin Richardson, whose credits include Slipknot and Trivium. And your second: The eleven songs here are each dedicated to a particular musician who has influenced the duo, and not all of them are flamenco musicians– in fact, not all of them are even guitarists.
What the duo have concocted here is– and there’s no other way to put this– hardcore flamenco rock. How else do you explain the heavy metal dynamics, the proggy sense of scope, the presence of a wah-wah pedal on an acoustic guitar (!!!), and the mad, lickety-split momentum of the whole thing, which ranges wildly in mood and style but rarely drops its blazing tempo? What Rodrigo y Gabriela have created here is not another indulgent album of guitar noodling, but a vibrant, lively record that dazzles not just for its technical sophistication– which is, believe me, monumentally impressive– but its heart, its energy, and it’s bright colors. It’s never dull, it’s generally danceable, and it’s thrilling from top to bottom– an acoustic guitar album for everyone, from a couple of dynamite, real-life guitar heroes.