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La Semana (feat. Luna Negra)

Ottmar Liebert

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Album Review

Ottmar Liebert's 33rd Street label has developed a color-coded system for delineating the various kinds of recording projects he's involved with: blue-coded discs are solo guitar records, the orange code means nuevo flamenco recordings with Luna Negra (his standing duo project with bassist Jon Gagan), and the gray code means dance and remix albums. Thankfully they are separate. La Semana is an outing with Luna Negra. The 12 tunes here have a familiar feel, full of syncopated rhythms ever more pronounced by Gagan's wonderful bass playing, and by the use of digital delays on Liebert's guitars. The disc says 'no synthesizers' and all percussion is organic as well, but that doesn't mean that La Semana isn't slick. Liebert overdubbed the hell out of everything here, and while it doesn't distract, it does make one wonder what these tunes would have sounded like stripped to the bone. Liebert is a fine composer. He understands the intricacies of harmony and melody, but more importantly, he understands dynamics and groove. Cuts like "Caballada," with its driving rhythmic patterns, short funky bridge, and dovetailing guitars, all barely contained by the bassline, make for an exciting mix. Likewise, "Cocteau," with its mysterious guitar line as standing into — not apart from, or on top of — the rhythm track, weaves an ethereal, nearly delirious exotica around a relatively simple lyrical frame. The six-against-four beat in "Longing" is heady — shimmering and seductive as it stretches out over its seven minutes. The raw, bluesy flamenco within "Underworld," with its repetitive melodic frame, is very effective and hypnotic, and the dreamy, nuage jazziness of "Cave in My Heart" and "Echoes of a Caress" are unabashedly romantic. These two tunes forge new directions, to be sure, but whether they are welcome ones or not is the question. This is Liebert at both his most indulgent and his most sophisticated. Fans are likely to swoon, while the rest of us are still scratching our heads.

Biography

Born: 1963 in Cologne, Germany

Genre: New Age

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

With his engaging mix of subdued flamenco guitar and South American percussion, rock, jazz, and pop influences, German guitarist Ottmar Liebert's "attitude" actually suppresses the more challenging and "dangerous" aspects of flamenco in favor of the romantic and the stylish. His feel for the music's innate...
Full Bio
La Semana (feat. Luna Negra), Ottmar Liebert
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