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Europe Ojos de Brujo nominated for the Europe category

Ojos de Brujo (Spain)

Song : Naitá
Album : Bari (La Fabrica de Colores, Spain)

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Elsewhere in BBCi : Album review

Ojos de Brujo sing "in a rumba dub style" on their 2001 debut album Vengue (Edel). The Catalan collective don't only rewrite a Bob Marley lyric, their whole musical aesthetic is based on joyously reinventing flamenco and Catalan rumba.

'We like people with open minds,' said original lead singer Dani Monoloco of the Ojos de Brujo manifesto when I spoke to him earlier this year. 'It's time to try things. We don't try and invent something, it's more like cooking - you can eat paella all the time but if you mix it with something it's new and tasty. We don't have to do Catalan rumba like our fathers. We try and do fusion, not confusion. The song has to work. Maybe we'll put some berimbau over Latin funk. Or with palmas (the rhythmic handclapping of flamenco) we'll mix some hip-hop scratching. OK, you can't change the rhythm of flamenco but you can put a Hammond on that rhythm and it works.'

Ojos de Brujo translates as "eyes of the wizard". It's an appropriate name for a band who attempt to create musical magic. And judging by the results on Vengue and the October 2002 follow-up Bari (on their own label La Fabrica De Colores), the Catalan group do possess Gandalf's touch. Formed from a collective of young Spanish musicians who use flamenco as a foundation for cross-genre experimentation, Ojos de Brujo incorporate elements of hip-hop, funk, salsa, and reggae into a dynamic flamenco sound. On Vengue they offered a dozen songs that managed to reflect equal amounts of traditional and contemporary flavors.

Dani "Monoloco" is also the front man for the innovative rock-fusion group Macaco and in-demand as a producer and collaborator. No doubt as a result, the hardest working man in Spanish showbiz isn't present on the new album. Instead, his place is now taken by the stylish and charismatic female flamenco singer and rapper Marina "La Canillas" Abad, reported as sensational by those who saw Ojos de Brujo's Womex showcase.

And let's not overlook the other members: guitarists Ramón and Antonio play funky rumba flamenco. Xavi Turull, a master of the cajón, flamenco's wooden crate, keeps the rhythms dancing. Colombian percussionist Beto adds primal Latin grooves. And DJ Panko helps push Ojos de Brujo's lo-fi flamenco vision into the 21st Century.

Garth Cartwright 2002

Read your comments on Ojos de Brujo

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