Lagos, Venosta, Mariani
Metamorphoses: Electronic Adventures in Flamenco
The proliferation of flamenco fusions spurred by the Gipsy Kings in the last decade has left the listener in a swamp of cheesy synths, pathetic hybrids and just plain boring repetition. And if I hear any more sampled palmas, I swear I am going to tear the fingers off the machine that produced them.
So give me a solo guitarist any time. Alfredo Lagos is not a familiar name in the field, but his playing is warm and direct, totally lacking in flash, simple and warm. The solo improvisations on this recording are ample musical reward. But, there's a big BUT here. The music of Lagos is just a building block. Electronic manipulators Giovanni Venosta and Masimo Mariani have merely lulled you into a sense of security by allowing that opening track of guitar to finish. After that few minutes, be prepared. They slice and they dice that music into small, essential ingredients. They sample, scratch and mix, concocting a witches brew of static and rhythm, melody and cacophony. Instead of sampled handclaps, they cut the strum of the guitar down to its smallest elements and produce a living, vibrating "estudio sobre el ritmo." They take a series of lines from a song and generate and fluid and careful "estudio sobre la liquidez." They push the power chords of flamenco to the extreme in a brutal blend of guitar distortion and synthesized "woodwinds." And they do it all with nothing more that the sounds generated by the guitar.
These are not just exercises in electronic manipulation. Metamorphoses shows the music as a skeleton and then rebuilds it as a new being that is neither machine nor musician; a musical cyborg, a Frankenstein of heady noise and bestial beauty. There is a real feeling of of live rather than rendered performance; a sense of both respect and humor prevails. - Cliff Furnald