Authenticity is a tricky construct in pop music. In Rumba Argelina
, guitarist and composer Fain Dueñas, wind player Vincent Molino, and vocalist Benjamin Escoriza, the core of the Spanish group Radio Tarifa, blend traditional North African music, flamenco, and a dash of rhythms from the New World, most notably Cuba, with a contemporary pop sensibility. The results sound surprisingly organic--even when some of the mixes take disorienting turns. "Oye China" suggests a son
--until an accordion and a mysterious wind instrument (bansuri?
) come in. When the song turns again, however, it evokes a vallenato
. "Soledad" alludes to flamenco but also to Brian Eno. Then again, as Dueñas & Co. define it, this is border music, the music of an imaginary radio station in Tarifa, the southernmost point in Spain. What it suggests depends on your point of reference--but leave that for musicologists. Most important, Rumba Argelina
is a delightful, rich, sensual experience, armchair travelling at its best. --Fernando Gonzalez
Released in 1996 and translated as 'Algerian Rumba', Radio Tarifa's startling debut is an exploration of the traditions of Spanish-Arabian music that creates a multi-cultural fusion of old and new. Recorded in group founder Fain Duenas' one-track home studio, 'Rumba Argelina' features instruments as diverse as bazouki, accordion and oboe against a rippling percussive backdrop.