Gecko Turner


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Gecko Turner is a Spanish guitar-vocal-songwriter-home studio sort, into mixing and matching different styles, usually black music forms that are less current hip-hop mixes than they are old-school '70s. Even then the music is less hard/funky than it is an understated groove thang, similar in some respects to what Manu Chao did with Clandestino and Proxima Estacion: Esperanza, but from a different musical angle. And Guapapasea! is a strong debut that works in its low-key way, insinuating and worming its way in so long as you don't come in expecting big-bang musical fireworks. The opener "Subterranean Homesick Blues" is the Bob Dylan song sung in Spanish and turned all upside down on its head with Diego Antúnez's flute carrying the tune over a sort of jazzy samba-reggae chill groove. Turner sings in English when it suits his purposes, and his voice rarely rises above a whisper. He favors the most low-key of Bob Marley's many vocal sides as his model, kicked back and conversational rather than a fire brand prophet. Jazzy tinges come into the guitar on "Sabes Quien Te Quiere," and a funky bass'n'drum undertow on "Limón en La Cabeza" gets overlaid with wah-wah guitar licks and horns in the chorus. A reggae pulse grows stronger as the disc goes on, from "Equivocando" to a funk-reggae tinged clavinet part on "Niña del Guadiana." "Rainbow Country" is straight from the Marley songbook (and if not the lyrical blueprint for his later "Roots Rock Reggae," Turner sure is dropping in quotes from the latter) with acoustic guitar veering towards near-flamenco strums. The clave-based "Monka Mongas" effectively tips toward a Latin sound, but "Did Ya Black Up Today" brings back the reggae tinge. Some of these pieces have the feel of sketches. This lends the CD a virtue of immediacy, of capturing the freshness of the idea in the moment, but Guapapasea! seems to be drifting towards one-dimensional near the end, which is precisely when Turner unleashes the erstwhile title track (official title "45,000$"). It's simply a great song with a strong '70s funk Meters/Fela Kuti Afrobeat groove and clattering percussion that hooks in deep from the start. "I'm a Rolling Stone/I'm a rockin' guapa pasea" is an irresistible chorus hook and a R&B-rooted sax solo by young Spanish jazzman Javier Vercher adds a final new dimension to the mix. [The Love Monk edition in Spain adds bonus remixes of "Guapapasea," "Rainbow Country," and a double shot of "Limón en La Cabeza." They are the most vibrant grooves here and are treated creatively enough to give a different twist to them. While not absolutely essential, they do add 20-odd extra minutes to the disc, and if Gecko Turner's groove has already seduced you, you won't mind at all.]

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