Thursday, November 8, 2012

Album Review - Danza de Andalucia by Asgeir & Mo - 9/10

     When you hear the words "world music", what do you think of? Yeah, I don't really have a clue either, but this next review actually falls under the genre of world music. In all seriousness, world music seems to just touch the idea of many forms of music into one collection (such as an album). Recently, I've given a listen to an album that falls under this said genre. Danza de Andalucia is the debut album from the masterminds of Asgeir Aarøen (classically and flamenco trained guitarist) and Bjarte Mo (classically trained violinist) who both hail from Norway. Usually, the music we review from Norway has been that of the metal genre which the country is known to spawn some pretty excellent acts. Asgeir and Mo stray to the opposite of that spectrum, and create 13 tracks of sophisticated and elegant music that be quite enjoyable to the unsuspecting listener. Check out the review of Danza de Andalucia.

     Now, I'm not much of an expert when it comes to classical music, or much associated with it. I do appreciate it, however, and find classical music to provide a great history lesson for those getting more into music themselves. Danza de Andalucia isn't your run of the mill classical album. Asgeir and Mo combine the story elements of classical music and infuse more of the modern energy and the many influences around us today. You get this vibe straight from the first track "Summer Flirt", where everything is cohesive but fun at the same time. You'll find yourself listening to two key players of the album. That of course being the violinist and guitarist (might be more than one, so I'll just say Asgeir to steer away the confusion). The styles change with almost every song. "Arabian Samba" depicts the drastic change from one to another, especially after you hear "Summer Flirt". You may find this track to be a bit more tense and serious, unlike the previous where it was more fun and somewhat peppy. "Your Hands In Mine" throws any sort of energy out the window. Well, I guess I shouldn't say it like that. There is always energy brewing throughout this album, but I guess I should say this track has a dark emotional feeling to it.

     As you progress, you'll find that each song tells a story, no matter how long the track spans. You'll also find that every song on the album, except the last, is purely instrumental. This gives the listener a chance to relate to the music in a full raw experience. As I said above, I'm not an expert, so I can't tell you what some of the compositions resemble in terms of classical artists or anything like that. I see this as the perfect opportunity to tell the readers, "Check out this music, hear it for yourself".

     Now I don't mean to just pick out one track, but I believe it is necessary to do so. "Summer Song" is the only track to contain vocals. I'm not sure why they decided to make this choice, as a purely instrumental album isn't unheard of anymore. Either way, the main focus seems to be on the vocals, which isn't too much of a big deal but you kind of get addicted to the instrumentals to a point you want to hear them throughout. You do get a "guitar solo" after the middle section, but I feel it is short lived. The vocalist does have a gentle, flowing voice and may throw off some people with the differing language. "Summer Song" does provide a good ending despite some of my "gripes".

     Danza de Andalucia is a solid album in many aspects. Although it is in a genre that isn't widely popular (as far as I know, it could be different out of the states), I would still urge anybody and everybody to check these guys out. The way they depict complicated emotions into music is astounding. Although I only covered a few songs, I feel this album is something you have to listen to from beginning to end. This experience will definitely shape up to be a better look into the music than what I can provide for those reading this now. This is an album that everyone should at least try to listen to.

Rating - 9/10
Release Date - January 1st, 2012
Website - AmazonSpotify

Track Listing

1. Summer Flirt
2. Arabian Samba
3. Your Hands In Mine
4. Night In Netanya
5. Walkabout
6. On The Beach
7. Andalucian Dance
8. Tango
9. Memories of Enerhaug
10. Cry From The Andes
11. Towards Midnight
12. Stroll Along The River
13. Summer Song


Asgeir Aarøen - guitar, ukelele
Bjarte Mo - violin
Magnus Rød Haugland - double bass
Gabriel Chicaiza - percussion, palmas
Eddie Andresen - percussion (pots, shakers)
Saska Cvijanovic - flute, piccolo
Noelia Sabarea - dance, castanets
Aina Schold - vocals

Stavanger String Session:
Bjarte Mo - violin
Eirik Stangenes - violin
Wouter Raubenheimer - viola
Ilmari Hopkins - cello

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