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Son de la Frontera

Cal

(World Village; US: Available as import; UK: 12 Jun 2007)

The white shape at the top of the cover art looked flat and the woman seemed to be drawing a black line of paint around it almost arbitrarily before I realized that it was the side of a building whitewashed so brilliantly with liquid limestone that it was deflecting shadows. She was making the line to mark the place where the wall touched the ground. The music inside shares that same quality of simplicity turning intense. It concentrates on the building blocks of flamenco: a guitar, a stamp, a handclap, a cry. Most of the tracks favor the swift, stark sound of the bulería, with digressions into a more ornamented tanguillo style, and also the sevillana, a jollier and more forgiving music used in folk dances. In interviews the group has talked about the importance, to them, musically, of positioning themselves on a frontier, where outside influences can invigorate their work—one of them plays a Cuban tres in place of the usual flamenco guitar—but Cal isn’t fusion in the way that the work of Ojos de Brujo is fusion. There is no hip hop, there are no club mixes, nothing electric. Here, fusion spritzes flamenco without changing it in any fundamental way. This is an uncompromising, intelligent album, worth hunting down.

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Son de la Frontera
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As a category world music is both useful and frustrating. It puts CDs on the shelves and prevents people picking them up. It is the other-than category: other-than rock, other-than indie, other-than everything. It is the whole world and nothing definite.
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