Benjamin Escoriza: Alevanta! (Riverboat/Elite)

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Benjamin Escoriza: El Raton
Benjamin Escoriza: Alevanta! (Riverboat/Elite)

This may be a tough call for most, unless you have heard and loved Radio Tarifa, a rocking Spanish band that brought together a happy marriage of North African music, Spanish flamenco, Latin and gypsy rhythms, and plenty of pop smarts.

Their albums Rumba Argelina ('93) and Cruzando El Rio ('01) are well worth seeking out.

Escoriza was one of the voices and songwriters in that now disbanded group, and he possesses a sandpapery, impassioned and sometimes raw style which sounds like the result of a lifetime of inhaling cigar smoke and whisky.

While nominally working the same source material as Radio Tarifa, Escoriza takes a great leap into (mostly) more percussion-driven sounds which results in a high energy album that grabs you by the lapels and insists you move.

Producer Juan Albert Arteche however keeps the sound spacious thus allowing the core sound to be filled out with unexpected instrumentation and counterpoint melodies, or counter-rhythms.

It is an exceptional, too-short, collection and just to show he hasn't lost his heart-tearing capacity Escoriza closes with a one minute-long ballad that will have you reaching for a tissue.

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