Gipsy Kings

Roots

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Fans of flamenco icons the Gipsy Kings have been waiting a long time for a record like Roots. The group spent much of the last ten years churning out a sleek and heady mix of often disposable worldbeat that, while perfectly executed, never lived up to the promise of their hugely successful 1988 American/English debut. The aptly named Roots finds the brothers Andre and Nicolás Reyes leading the veteran octet through 16 blistering tracks, bereft of the percussion and electronic trickery that has plagued so many of their previous outings. The family collective rented a farmhouse in the south of France for the recording, and the results are nothing short of a revelation. From the opening notes of "Aven, Aven" through the intimate campfire splendor of "Petite Noya," the bandmembers seem possessed by one another, trading stories through the only medium they understand, resulting in a listening experience that's almost mythological in scope. Between the infectious handclaps on "Rhythmic," the two visceral "Fandango" pieces performed by Nicolás and cousin Patchai Reyes, and the pristine (field) production -- it's like an Alan Lomax recording in 24-bit digital -- lie eight men out of time, playing for their country, their history, and most importantly, themselves. Highly recommended.

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