Ojos de Brujo made a lot of friends in the UK during 2003, playing a magnificent set at WOMAD which featured in the televised covereage and reached a wider audience that way. They have attracted a lot of favourable coverage in The Guardian, The Observer and other publications and, I think, even won an award in the Radio 3 world music awards.
Well, thats the hype which may make a few curious people look them up on Amazon and get this far, but is the music going to satisfy? You may already have heard about the blend of traditional flamenco and hip hip, and anyone who has heard Manu Chao will know how well that can work, but for me the most important mixture is that of technical skill and energy. In this respect Ojos de Brujo are again similar to Manu Chao, in that the skill transfers better to a studio album than the energy does.
Anyone who has seen this band live might be a little disappointed that it is not as 'sweaty' as they remember - but that is OK: there are bands who show their real selves in the studio and other bands who shine most on stage. That is not to say that this is a bad record, in fact it is a magnificent record, showing that you do not need to crank up a stck of marshalls to make a guitar really work, and you do not need to understand a lyric to be hypnotised by it.
Like a lot of modern Mediterranean music, the influences of North African rhythms are noticeable, maybe this was always the case, but I only notice it now that both African and European music are easier to find in Britain?
Anyway, it does look like there is now a lot more reason to visit Barcelona these days: by all means marvel at the Gaudi architecture and take the tour of the Nou Camp, but spend the evenings looking for the clubs where music like this is being conjured up. And in the meantime have a listen to this CD and the two Manu Chao ones which are available together as a reasonably-priced set.