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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2009
'Gran Hotel Buenos Aires', has to be one of the best world music albums of OO's, imo. As a fusion album it kept things refreshingly simple by refusing to exaggerate either the western electronics or the latin rhythms and instrumentation, and as a result, the diverse elements met somewhere in the middle.

This album sees Federico often relaxing the delayed and reverbed production techniques in favour of more up front rhythms, or emphasising delicate songwriting structures. There's definitely more snap in the snare in this album than on GHBA, definitely a few danceworthy tracks, although, as you'd expect, the music remains very emotional, deep and soothing. In terms of appreciating the album, the biggest obstacle is perhaps Federico's murmurred vocals - despite having a great appreciation for melody, feel and texture, he's technically quite limited and often backed up by the excellent Natalie Clavier.

The latter really makes her mark on this album, and one of the most fascintating things about 'Panamericana' is the way her playful, intelligent lyrics and melodies dovetail with Federico's deep and moody song structures. There's genuine chemistry between the two artists and a sense of each influencing the other. Towards the end of the album, when the mood returns to Gran Hotel, Federico's vocals sound a lot better.

Opener 'La Esquina' is really strong. It also establishes the main ideas and moods of the album. As the title suggests, it's about a meeting, a public space in the centre of the town, which has the effect of differentiating it from the fleeting relationships and passerby perspectives that dominates popular songs like 'Postales' and 'En Lugar'. It's more confrontational, influenced by the tango, and the vocals and beats reflect this.

The album is largely mid-tempo, and can get a bit one paced. 'La Orilla' is the one song that really ticks along. It has a few bars of solo bass before the full band comes in with plenty of punch. During the middle eight the percussion really pushes through and is excellently recorded. This song is definitely an album highlight and also features much more aggressive (and fast) guitar playing from Federico at the close.

From an instrumentation side one of the most notable aspects of this album is the brass sections. They're really well recorded (often with delay) and, on 'Maria Jose', create a carnival feel alongside the chorused backing vocals. 'Corazon', another song with a horn section, is quite descarga and has a passionate singalong chorus. The positioning of the horns in the mix is somewhere in the middle and as a result has a slightly disorientating, melancholy feel.

There's a few tracks that are more clearly centred around dub, particularly towards the end of the album - closing track 'La Mar' has a languid feel and has lots of echoey vocals and keys, while 'En El Desierto' has a fantastic, deep bass and distant funk guitar and emotion to match. 'Su Melodia' is the best of them, though, with its propulsive dub reggae guitar and sensual female vocals.

All in all, this album shows Federico branching out a bit more, whilst returning some of the flavours of his previous album. It's more song-based, more eclectic and for much of the first half of the album the emphasis is on lyrics, song structures and middle eights. As the album progresses, the electronica background becomes more evident and the songs become deeper. It's the work of an artist growing and continuing to make a fusion of styles look easy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2008
Aubele is on Thievery Corporation's Eighteenth Street Lounge label, and their trademark downtempo slightly reggae-influenced approach makes this is a very relaxed Latin chillout record with a bit more of an edge than many. Highly recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 24 September 2007
A excellent follow on to Gran Hotel Buenos Aires, perhaps slightly more 'acoustic' but as essential.

Very nice soft, loud, on your own, or at a party.

Lovely Stuff!
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