Back after a brief hiatus, once again Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quinetro have proved that they are the personification of sonic beauty, complexity and skill. Their first album of original material in five years, the virtuosos have created a collection of tracks that, whilst resonate soundly in the present, plumb the depths of the past for inspiration and produce a sound that draws from their rockier Mexico City days. As serene and enthralling as their collaboration with C.U.B.A was on Area 52, their latest LP feels decidedly more direct.
Opening track ‘The Soundmaker’ pays homage to Antonio de Torres Jurado, a 19th Century luthier widely considered as the most important figure in Spanish guitar playing. As tributes go, this one is five minutes of glorious celebration. Percussive ferocity and melodic progression provide the listener with enough gusto to ensure movement is a must. It’s bluesy, classic rock undertone justly matches the moments of fragility that intersperse it, and dare we say, would not seem out of place on an ’80s Metallica instrumental track. Basically, it rocks..a lot.
Considering though this is an album built on tributes, ‘The Soundmaker’ is just the tip of the iceberg. ‘Torito’ isn’t so much based on any particular individual, rather, nature and sound. That isn’t to say it has less of an impact than ‘Misty Moses’ or ‘Somnium;’ its atmosphere is one of power and fists-in-the-air enthusiasm – a motif common throughout. There is fragility too though, the haunting vocal samples on ‘Sunday Neurosis’ deal with paranoia and absent thought, layered upon a delicate melody that’s ripe with calm. A fitting homage, then, to Viktor Frankl – the protagonist of the track. Fyodor Dostoevsky even gets the sonic treatment on ‘The Russian Messenger,’ a track that is at times both frenetic and punching, but lucid and thoughtful. Closing number ‘La Salle Des Pas Perdus’ though, is perhaps the brightest gem in the collection. It feels personal, warm and reiterates that this a duo whose artistic vision is one of simple and clear melodic grace; an achievement for any musical outfit but perhaps more so given Rodrigo y Gabriela’s basic approach to production.
This is an album that could very easily sit comfortably in anybody’s collection. Whether you’re a fan of metal, rock, folk or simply enjoy classical composition, it is highly recommended that 9 Dead Alive be brought home as soon as possible. You probably won’t regret it.