Fractured Romany Tales
In 2002, the Spanish world music band Ojos de Brujo released an amazing record called Barí, showcasing its flamenco/Romany/techno/dub/folk/rock/everything style. Some Americans heard this album, and flipped their wigs for this band, the name of which translates to “Eyes of the Wizard”. But most of us didn’t hear Barí until its stateside release last year. Hey, better late to the party than never, I guess.
This remix album, helmed mostly by band member DJ Panko, was released in Europe in 2003. It’s getting released here now, which gives fans of the original the chance to relive their memories while dancing their asses off. It also bids fair to make techno heads fall in love with OdB, as it is pretty damned good.
The remixes are fun and sprightly and well-thought-out; Panko pumps up their dancefloor muscles, but does no harm to the songs’ fundamental structure and drama. “Zambra” was one of the highlights of the original record, a lengthy tense burner that did its best to live up to its translated title of “Gypsy Party”. Here, as “Space Zambramix”, it is scribbled on with childish prog synths and chopped up a little, beefed up with even more aural information than contained in the original. It’s not improved in the least, but it is a nice fun compliment to its source, and will move more butts now that it is removed from the responsibility of meaning anything at all.
The dubbed-out mix of “Calé Barí” that opens up is pretty trippy, layering the pleading voice of OdB singer Marina “la Canillas” on top of herself approximately seven times to form a creepy new way to hear the song. “Tiempo de Drumba” is now a two-step funk workout with finger-plucked guitar and echoey scratching.
But not all is well here. The remix of “Quien Engaña no Gana” takes the mysterious original tune and runs with it, erasing or de-emphasizing half the elements through dub trickery, and reshuffling them in search of a more streamlined dance experience. The fact that Goa-trance synth squiggles have been substituted shouldn’t be held against it; the fact that this version is more laid-back and less urgent than the original is the bigger problem.
But that just masks an even bigger problem, which is that this album shouldn’t exist at all. It is only 34 minutes long, and that’s with an extra instrumental version of “Tiempo de Drumba” that brings nothing new to the table. This should have been released as part of the package of the original record, instead of shoved into stores as a capitalist afterthought. It’s really only of interest if you love love love Barí and you are a DJ or obsessive completist. Better off to wait until the next “real” Ojos de Brujo album comes out.