If I were to begin by describing this album as a flamenco album, you would rightly say that I am completely off-topic, and you would be absolutely correct. The credentials of contemporary flamenco are definitively sealed by the master of flamenco guitar, our friend Juan Carmona; everything that comes after now seems dull. It’s essential to mention that the group’s name ends with “Fusion,” and here, this group truly makes sense. Indeed, the USA is thousands of kilometers away from the source of flamenco, and what we have here is, at best, a vague impression. This is evident as they borrow the technique, set aside the traditional codes, and inject a very American and world music perspective into their intentions.
Being born in Europe, it took me some time to connect with this album, but that allowed me to stay with it and derive pleasure. The quality of the musicians is outstanding. I struggled initially with the arrangements, but gradually, I immersed myself in this album, which, to me, is like a travel journal where one pastes impressions and a few photos – elements that together form a vision of someone not born into Flamenco culture but passionate about it.
In this album, everything lights up when there are unmistakable but somewhat heavy-handed Arab-Muslim influences that resemble more of a film score. The blending of guitars drowned in the mass of other instruments, the repetitive rhythms intended to evoke the dance steps of flamenco dancers – all a bit too redundant and unnecessary. Yet, these are the impressions of musicians born far from the source of flamenco, so there’s no harm in that. I would have liked to be involved in the production of such an album to give it the necessary lightness, but as it stands, the overall piece is touching – touching in its imagination, naivety on the subject, and the choice of the cello in the group, which truly adds a distinctive color.
Certainly, the arrangements overly fill the tracks with unnecessary elements, but the compositions are magnificent. Therefore, one must listen attentively to capture the essence, which is far from easy due to sounds that interfere with the listening experience of string instruments. In my opinion, the ideal setup would have been two guitars, a cello, a double bass, and an oud, and nothing more – especially not poorly managed dance step effects that detract from this project. The cello is magnificent but too verbose; listening feels cramped in the tracks, and what could have made this album one of our “must-haves” falls short. It’s a good album with talented musicians, but it’s poorly managed in terms of production, earning only three stars. Still, this is to acknowledge the quality of the compositions and instrumentalists. I have no doubt that this group has the potential to release a flawless album in the years to come; we just have to wait and see.
PARIS-MOVE, December 6th 2023