|RODRIGO Y GABRIELA
FRIDAY, MARCH 5, 2010
THE PHOENIX CONCERT THEATRE
410 Sherbourne Street, Toronto
Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero have been playing guitar together for more than fifteen years. From their hesitant first steps as teenage thrash metallurgists in their native Mexico City, through the innocents abroad street players of Dublin's Grafton Street at the turn of the Millennium, to the universally acclaimed globe straddling tour machine of 2009; theirs is a musical union where mutual understanding goes beyond intuitive and into the realms of Zen. Rhythmic Yin to melodic Yang.
It has been three years since the release of their last studio album. Simply called Rodrigo y Gabriela it was first released in Ireland in February 2006, where it charted at # 1 in the national charts. This proved to be an auspicious start for a record which has since gone on to sell 600,000 copies worldwide. A slow burn, genuine word of mouth success story, the album proved to be Rod & Gab's international calling card. As first the UK, then Australia, South Africa, America, Europe and Japan succumbed to the unique charms of the record; the duo found themselves constantly on the road for more than two and a half years in support of the release.
Keeping a base in Ireland, the lure of warmer climes nearer home proved hard to ignore; and in 2007, they decided to establish a Central American outpost in Ixtapa on the Pacific Coast. The latter part of 2008 was spent building a recording studio at their Mexican headquarters; and it was here that the new album, entitled 11:11 ; was recorded. If Rodrigo y Gabriela was a successful attempt at capturing the unbridled dynamic energy of their incendiary gigs (mostly recorded 'live' in the studio, with very few overdubs); then the new album sees them developing their core sound into something more sophisticated, intricate and varied. At the heart of the sound is still the stunning interplay between Rodrigo's dazzling lead work and Gabriela's unique rhythm play; but the base soundscape is now subtly supplemented by percussion, occasional piano and a fresh arsenal of stringed instruments from around the world, including oud and sitar. And - whisper it quietly - the introduction here and there of electric guitar.
Produced by Rodrigo y Gabriela (with co-production from John Leckie on the title track), the album was mixed by Colin Richardson; famed in the rock world for his console work on Slipknot and Trivium. Picked by Rod & Gab for the way he makes guitars simultaneously sing and sting, it's his desk dexterity that make the sound pictures on 11:11 dance before your eyes and ears.
At the heart of 11:11 lies Rod & Gab's wish to celebrate some of the great musicians, both past and present, who have inspired them along the way. Each of the eleven tracks is a musical 'gracias' to a delicious and diverse assortment of talent. Some are transparent - the 'Voodoo Chile' quoting 'Buster Voodoo' is a clear nod of appreciation to Hendrix - others are more discreet. Metal God Alex Skolnick of Testament joins them on 'Atman', a thrilling Arabesque charge in celebration of Dimebag Darrell, replete with a scorching total shred solo from Skolnick.
Elsewhere, Rod & Gab are united with L.A. based acoustic fusion veterans Strunz & Farah, to create a unique guitar quartet for the Paco De Lucia homage 'Master Maqui'. Their influences are varied and multi-dimension, where else would you hear a Mexican duo paying respect to an Israeli oud three piece shaped by the guy who mixed Cradle Of Filth?
It is this willingness to explore musical expression, to embrace new sounds irrespective of fashion or trends; and a point blank refusal to be pigeon-holed as any particular genre, which lies at the very foundation of Rodrigo y Gabriela. 11:11 is a testament to this. It leaves us with the feeling that we have only begun to see what these two are capable of.