This Los Angeles-based dynamic Spanish guitar duo has made an incredible career, one brilliant recording after another, of paying homage to the cultures surrounding their countries of origin -- Costa Rica (Jorge Strunz) and Iran (Ardeshir Farah). While the intense intricacy of their dual acoustic vibe and high quality of melodies and production each time out make it hard to call any effort their best ever, Fantaseo is certainly right up there. It all starts with little steps, aka the amiable and increasingly dramatic "Pasitos," which lopes along for a few minutes before longtime violin associate Charlie Bisharat adds his soaring exotic Middle Eastern touch. "Bello Mundo" lives up to its spirited title as the duo gracefully weaves a flamenco-inspired spell through Bisharat's optimistic runs. It's always just a matter of time before the Middle Eastern vibe becomes more pronounced, and the title track -- which features Farah on steel string -- is a joyful entry into that boundless exoticism. After the more laid-back, lushly soundscaped "Southern Seas," Strunz & Farah go a bit smooth jazzier on "Azure," enhancing a gentle, rolling melody with that lightning soloing they're so well known for. The percussion instruments get more exotic (and thus the rhythms grow wilder, global, and more unpredictable) on "Fortuneteller" and "Navayeh Roosta" before the set wraps up nicely on "Luxuriance," on which the duo dares legendary flutist Hubert Laws to keep up note for note with the happy mix of lush melody and hypnotic string rhythms -- needless to say, Laws is up to the task.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran