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The Rough Guide to Flamenco (3rd edition)

(World Music Network; US: 25 Jun 2013; UK: 24 Jun 2013)

I’d still recommend the first edition, not for the sake of its scope, because the other two are better for that, but for its seriousness: it treats flamenco like a bullet that deserves to be fired into you. But I’d want this one, too, because it has an excellent bulería from Carmelilla Montoya—herself and the guitars and the men tight-packing a beat that’s already fast—and the jazz that goes with “Fandangos” by Mantriro is unusual for flamenco-jazz—it’s a sneery shruggy noise in place of the usual mush guitar.


The existence of crossovers into pop styles is acknowledged but not dwelt on—there’s The Rough Guide to Flamenco Nuevo over there if you want that. One group tangles mildly with hip hop but Ojos de Brujo they’re not. The key sound on this album is the partnership of harshness with softness: the hard voice versus the cottonball guitar of Mayte Martín which recurs, in new forms, in other songs. The presence of Carmen Linares is a sign that the compiler is willing to be astringent, which makes “Bulería Menor” from Son de la Frontera a misleading choice, in retrospect, for the first track you hear. They’ve done less forgiving work than this.

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Son de la Frontera - "Bulería Menor"
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