Javier Ruibal - Sahara
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Javier Ruibal
Riverboat Records

cd cover There's world music, then there's the music of the world. What we hear most often emanates from the first category. That is, music (more or less) readily available wherever and however it is that people procure their recorded music these days (record companies don't have such a firm grasp on this process anymore). And any world traveler with an ear for the lyrical knows that only a small portion of what one finds when abroad is typically available outside the country of origin. Why else leave home?

Take Spain. Franco's demise opened up an exceptional era of artistic creativity, and Spain today presents a surfeit of musical possibility. So it's no surprise that a talented singer-songwriter-guitarist like Cádiz native Javier Ruibal has flown under planetary radar until now. Here as elsewhere, world-music purveyors get the commercial jump by traveling for everyone else, and Sahara cherry-picks from Ruibal's two most recent Spanish releases.

Sahara reveals a suave singer, composer and arranger, an impenitent romantic with a fatal attraction for the feminine apparition. Ruibal's stylistic counterparts include artists like Luís Delgado, Radio Tarifa and (in a broader musico-philosophical sense) Manu Chao, whose styles variously reflect the hybrid textures of Moorish and Sephardic Iberia, medieval Spain, gypsy Andalusia, North Africa and the Levant. In short, Ruibal's is popular Spanish music with a cosmopolitan ken for the roots and branches of pan-Mediterranean expressive culture and history.

But looking east, Sahara also offers something quite distinctive, the arresting "La Flor de Estambul." Ruibal sets his lyrics to fellow-traveling orientalist Erik Satie's haunting melody, "1ère Gnossienne" (in original conception, an allusion to the wisdom of classical Greece), on a track newly recorded for Ruibal's first sortie into the world-music souk. If he can continue to invoke the wondrous muse of this sort of inspiration, we'll be hearing a lot more of Ruibal. - Michael Stone

Sahara is available from Amazon.com
Previous recordings are available from cdRoots

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