Rodrigo y Gabriela : Area 52

Rodrigo y Gabriela. The name really says it all: two Mexican musicians who stand tall as a duo, playing an inspired brand of flamenco guitar with heavy metal influences. It is a collaboration that has drawn international acclaim for Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero.

For Area 52, the duo, with a guitar case of their own previously released compositions, traveled to Cuba to re-imagine them with a 13-piece orchestra dubbed C.U.B.A. The duo’s compositions are unquestionably cast into a new light with the vivid orchestration; however, while the effort brims with spice and flare, the magic of the duo – Rodrigo’s fleet-fingered leads and Gabriela’s percussive rhythmic playing – is diluted in the mix. “Ixtapa” is a stand-out, and “11:11” draws from a well-spring of passion, but the grandiose “Santo Domingo” and the busy “Tamacun” seem excessive.

Rodrigo y Gabriela exude talent, and Area 52 is a testament to their songwriting and compositional zeal. It is a worthy experiment, albeit one that creates a yearning for the stripped down, original versions of these tracks.

Area 52 is out now on ATO Records.