Gustavo Cerati

Fuerza Natural

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Riding high after the killer double punch of the electric Ahi Vamos and the monumental Soda Stereo reunion tour, Gustavo Cerati decided to give the epic a rest and concentrate on the intimate for the laid-back Fuerza Natural. Conceived and recorded rather quickly to Cerati's standards, the album sacrifices the stylistic coherence of his best work, such as 1999's masterpiece Bocanada, for the all-over-the-place diversity of 2002's Siempre Es Hoy. Fortunately, it also avoids the latter's sprawling nature by virtue of being a good 15 minutes shorter. Cerati seems to have taken this opportunity to both relax and flex his songwriting muscles, trying different avenues in the good company of trusted collaborators such as Leandro Fresco, Fernando Nalé, Fernando Samalea, Richard Coleman, Anita Alvarez de Toledo, and co-producer Tweety Gonzalez. Moreover, most lyrics are co-written with either Coleman, Adrian Paoletti, or Cerati's son, Benito Cerati.

Fuerza Natural has a curious sequencing structure, as it seems to be organized in stylistic batches. It begins with a trio of bona fide Cerati hits in that suave, effortless manner that always suited him so well; it then switches to a surprising but rather unsuccessful bluesy/folksy diptych (surprising inasmuch as Cerati has always been closer to U.K. electro-pop than to American roots music); later it proposes a few uptempo numbers that recall the hard rock sound of Ahi Vamos; and finally, the disc ends with a three-song, 12-minute wash (including one hidden track) of psychedelic delight. In spite of all this diversity, the best moments are the ones that recall former Cerati songs, such as the aptly titled first single "Deja Vu," which ironically acknowledges: "this song has already been written." The highlight by a mile, however, is the exquisite "Cactus," another chapter in the on-and-off affair Cerati has had with Argentine folklore since 1985's Soda Stereo classic "Cuando Pase el Temblor." As with every other time has tried to combine a native rhythm (this time a chacarera) with electronic textures and his decadent, romantic outlook, the results are simply superb. One can only hope Cerati will make an entire album in this vein one day. For the time being, the impeccable Cerati discography has a new addition to the enjoyable "interlude" category with Fuerza Natural, rather than to the epoch-defining album one, from an artist who time and again has proven himself a master at both. This new batch of songs may be growers rather than immediate favorites, but they still, inevitably, exude that astonishing sense of musical facility, absolute class, and inherent sophistication that have come to distinguish all of Gustavo Cerati's productions.

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