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After a breakthrough debut with Extraordinary Rendition, San Francisco's Rupa Marya and her band of musical misfits returned in 2009 with Este Mundo, an album formed in ways around a more singular cultural core. The musicality of the group is without question — the players jump into formation at the drop of a hat, and can alternately swing together or clash as they devolve into a frenzy of excited improvisation. There are still the elements of Gypsy jazz, the elements of Indian classical music, and the Argentinean milongas and tango pieces that were present in their previous album. However, there's a stronger tie both thematically and musically with Mexico here. The lyrics, largely in Spanish, deal strongly with the displacement and danger inherent in border-crossing, and the music takes on a casual norteño sound with its reliance on the accordion and bass. Even the pieces with a theoretical Andalusian or Argentinean pattern end with a bit of a country feel thanks to some violin playing that verges on fiddle territory. The group makes a point of social statement within its music, and showcases cultural diversity whenever possible. At times, the ethnic portions can seem a bit ill-fitted (and worse when a stray rapper is enlisted to juxtapose against more traditional fare), but the full album is a worthwhile one. Transitions from raga to klezmer to chanson are rarely so fluid. While the music's goals or directions may never be entirely understood, you can still enjoy the sound.
What a discovery!
What a wonderful experience it was when I heard these musicians play for the first time. This music is so hard to define: mainly European gypsy style jazz with a heavy latin influence with inventive lyrics. But there are other influences as well—listen to understand. The arrangements and the execution by the musicians are deft and electric. The multi-lingual Rupa adds great vocals, with my only criticism being that I do not think she has explored her whole range of voice, as least on the recordings. I have heard from friends in Germany (it appears that they tour a lot in Europe, which is not surprising) that this San Francisco based group is absolutely fantastic live, "even better in concert—a must see". Now, I must buy their first recording.
Formed: San Francisco, CA
Years Active: '00s
Top Albums and Songs by Rupa & The April Fishes
||Maintenant||Extraordinary Rendition||4:07||$1.29||View In iTunes|
||Une Américaine à Paris||Extraordinary Rendition||3:59||$1.29||View In iTunes|
||C'est moi||Este Mundo||4:10||$1.29||View In iTunes|
||Neruda||Este Mundo||3:14||$1.29||View In iTunes|
||Trouble||Este Mundo||4:14||$1.29||View In iTunes|
||L'éléphant||Este Mundo||4:41||$1.29||View In iTunes|
||C'est pas d'lamour||Extraordinary Rendition||4:50||$1.29||View In iTunes|
||Les abeilles||Extraordinary Rendition||5:39||$1.29||View In iTunes|
||Not So Easy||Extraordinary Rendition||1:46||$1.29||View In iTunes|
||La pêcheuse||Extraordinary Rendition||5:38||$1.29||View In iTunes|