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Rodrigo y Gabriela - 'Area 52' CD Review

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Photo Courtesy Ato Records/Red

Rodrigo y Gabriela - 'Area 52'

Photo Courtesy Ato Records/Red

The Mexican acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela has just released an exciting album entitled Area 52. The duo produced this album alongside the Afro-Cuban band C.U.B.A, adding a Caribbean flavor to the duo's vibrant guitar playing. The CD, which includes nine tracks, features some of the best songs produced by Rodrigo and Gabriela in previous albums. Some of the singles include hits like "Hanuman," "11:11" and "Diablo Rojo". Let's take a closer look at this production.

Cuban Grooves

Rodrigo y Gabriela have developed a very unique style that is difficult to place into a particular label. Their sound incorporates different musical influences ranging from Flamenco, Heavy Metal, Jazz, Funk, and Alternative music. However, their music has been branded by the amazing acoustic guitar playing they always bring into their productions.

Although the characteristic guitar playing is at the core of the sounds of Area 52, this album is different from the previous works in one evident way. For the first time, the Mexican duo has recorded an album with another group of musicians. Area 52 is, in fact, the result of a collaboration work between the Mexican duo and C.U.B.A., an Afro-Cuban band made of talented musicians from the island.

Because of this innovation, the sounds of this album are heavily marked by Cuban grooves. C.U.B.A brings into this production different musical influences ranging from Latin Jazz to Salsa and Danzon. For instance, at the beginning of "Diablo Rojo," one of the very best songs of Area 52, you can hear a piano playing plain Salsa alongside the intoxicating guitar of Rodrigo. Around half way of this song, you can also hear a dramatic change of sound that falls into a typical Cuban Danzon.

A Jamming Session of High Quality

Above all, Area 52 is a jamming session of high quality. In fact, this album was produced by talented musicians, something that is quite evident from the very beginning of this work. The piano solos, the percussion, and the brass sections are just fantastic. The musical arrangements that brought together all the different instruments you hear in Area 52 create a sense of harmony that is fascinating.

I think one of the biggest achievements of Area 52 is that the Cuban band does not create any distraction from the guitar playing of the Mexican duo. In other words, the band fits the style that has defined Rodrigo and Gabriela's music adding just a Tropical and jazzy dimension to it.

Perhaps, some people may think that this album sounds too Cuban or Caribbean for Rodrigo and Gabriela. However, I believe the Mexican duo was ready to move forward with this kind of experiment. I also believe they chose the right path. The richness of Cuban music and the incredible talent that very often Cuban musicians have is just what Rodrigo y Gabriela needed to further enhance their own talent and keep evolving as artists.

'Area 52' - Bottom Line

If you are looking for something different, Area 52 will please you. If you like music in general, not necessarily Latin music, you are going to enjoy this album. The musical complexity that each single track offers is overwhelming in the good sense of the word. Although 2012 is just starting, I can anticipate Area 52 is already a solid candidate to make it to the list of best albums this year. Five solid stars to this work.

'Area 52' - Best Songs

  • Hanuman
  • Ixtapa
  • Diablo Rojo
  • Logos
  • Tamacun

Record Label: Ato Records/Red
Release Date: January 24, 2012

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