RootsWorld: Home Page Link RootsWorld: Home Page Link

Radio Tarifa
Cruzando El Rio
Nonesuch/World Circuit (

cd cover Radio Tarifa, the Spanish trio plus friends, broadcast another immense program via a third album of alchemy from their garage in Madrid and do it in only 36 minutes. 'Crossing the River' proves as visionary and wide but not as long a pageant as their first effort, the seminal and (still) majestic Rumba Argelina (1993). The prospectus of the band remains: to present a modal medley of as many of the poetic idioms of song/dance as possible from the deep archives of their home crossroad. This kind of assignment can be attempted by only a few within any culture, yet Radio Tarifa also realize they are not a museum of traditional Moorish/flamenco music. On this recording the band maintains its skill for essential tunes, nuanced production, and technical virtuosity, but add frequent use of electric guitar and artificial ambience to arrive at their most daring, diverse document to date. In addition to guitars, Fain Duenas also plays his guimbri (Moroccan banjo), bouzouki, santir, lute, bass and much hand percussion with terrific ability, and liberally builds onto melodies and ideas from the public domain as the group's musical director. Meanwhile Vincent Molino handles organs and winds - flute, ney, crumhorn, poitou oboe, argul (Egyptian double clarinet) and Benjamin Escorizo both writes and sings with emotional complexity. Along with the Castillian folksongs, traditional Caceres music, Hispano-Moslem nuba, holy Renaissance processional, and percussion floorshow (complete with flamenco dancer), we also get a rethinking of free improv, "Alab," for flute and frets; and a traditional Japanese piece that barely reveals its own origin in this set. Wandering way beyond the airwaves of Gibraltar this time out, Radio Tarifa still can't help but steep things with Arabo-Andalusian flavor.

The freedom with which everything comes together, the abundance of detail, less strict concern about tradition proper, combined with the nocturnal atmospherics and Duenas' shifting electric guitar palette, invites speculation that the three middle aged gentleman might have fancied '70s European progressive rock once upon a time. Not equal to the pure, chiefly unplugged splendor of their first two albums, Cruzando El Rio does however display a net heritage broader than either. And though the tangerine and teal package with raw neo-Matisse cut-outs and cargo lettering seems pointedly aimed in the opposite direction of the previous record, the handsome, refined Temporal (1996), it suits the joy and pain and new possibilities that continue to flow from these urbane Spanish primitives. - Steve Taylor

Comment on this music or the web site.
Write a Letter to the Editor

Looking for More Information?

return to rootsworld

© 2001 RootsWorld. No reproduction of any part of this page or its associated files is permitted without express written permission.