rodrigo y gabriela 11:11
  • TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2009

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Rodrigo Y Gabriela continue to expand their guitar prowess with a new batch of fiery tunes, exploring new sounds while maintaining the same heart that has always been at the core of their songwriting. The duo excel at uptempo finger-racing flamenco, keeping the beat and the riffs exciting, even if they tend to melt together at times. The technical skill mixed with Mediterranean flare and a solid back beat keep the tracks moving and the adrenaline pumping. Their insane finger melting licks and toe-tapping percussive edge remain in tact.

On 11:11, RYG flow seamlessly through some odd choices of filters and effects, a bunch of randomly placed fades that at times, honestly, don't add or take away from anything. However the level of comfort in their own identity brings a new lens of focus to the work, a kind of opening up and moving away from any previous source material. The inspiration and homage-heavy title track "11:11" still pays credit to many influential guitarists, but the structure seems definitively stylized. Finally we have an album where Rodrigo Y Gabriela seem comfortable with their sound.

Which is interesting, because the "sound" seems to have shifted from jazzy latin to more progressive, nu-metal and rock, a tough sell for two flamenco players. But RYG pull off this adjustment with measured poise, subtely slipping in alternative tactics on top of their usual shtick. Tracks like "Buster Voodoo" make good use of the 'wah' pedal to expand the sound, and "Logos" sounds like it is one chord away from exploding into a Metallica monster ballad, even seemingly referencing several Radiohead songs (am I crazy for hearing the tail end of "My Iron Lung" at one point?) It's actually kind of cool seeing what crazy expansions Rod Y Gab can make on their palette with a few Protools and an appetite for all walks of music.

The duo are admirable for taking an angle that many would call "boring" or "elevator music" and making it exhilarating and captivating. Their compositions are more than just background noise, and their technical skill and musical knowledge go a long way to bolster their craft. The ability to make a pair of guitars sound like a full orchestras worth of musical play is nothing to scoff at, and RYG have gone pro at creating impressive soundscapes. No singing, no limits, and not a dull moment. -joe puglisi

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