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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2011
Federico Aubele was born and raised in Argentina, and while he is inescapably influenced by the musical traditions of his homeland, he has been inspired and affected by the many other places he has been.
He has lived in New York, Barcelona, and Berlin, and his sound is at least as well-traveled as he is, synthesizing dub reggae, ambient electronica, and Spanish guitar into elaborately textured music that is easily recognizable as his own.
He moved to Berlin in 2001, during the Argentine Crisis. It would seem, on the surface, to be a project dedicated to the German city, but it ends up being his most eclectic album to date.
"On his fourth album, Argentine guitarist and songwriter Federico Aubele takes both the production and mixing reins for the first time.
The title - "Berlin 13" - refers to the two-year period he spent living in the German city after leaving Buenos Aries, and to the thirteenth card in the Major Arcana of the tarot: Death.
"Berlin 13" is also significant for Aubele because it glues together the various strengths he's displayed on his previous recordings without their excesses or missteps.
There are the big, bass-heavy beats and loops that made 2004's "Gran Hotel Buenos Aries" stand out, the delicate, spidery, near-virtuosic nylon-string guitar lines that evoke tango, fado, flamenco, and jazz that have appeared on all of his records; there's the songwriter's gift for intimacy, subtlety, and melody from 2007's "Panamericana", and the ambitious genre melding, atmospheric evocations of other world music traditions from 2009's "Amatoria".
The set kicks off dubwise with "Berlin". A DJ's scratch beat, a bubbling bassline, and Aubele's otherworldly melodica accompany his guitar as swirling synths pan the channels à la Lee Perry. He sings in duet with Natalia Clavier, creating a sultry groove as sonic effects paint the backdrop underneath the dominant bass, kit, and hand-drums.
"No One" features some of the same dubbed-out elements in a downtempo vamp with tinges of tango, fado, and Latin percussion accompanying the tangle in Aubele's and Clavier's voices.
The album's single, "Bohemian Rhapsody in Blue", co-written with Jesse Harris, marries tango to reggae seamlessly. Aubele's vocal -- strangely reminiscent of Matt Johnson -- becomes a bridge in the tune's rhythmic palette, and is contrasted with Clavier's, echoing half-beat-behind one, to seemingly stretch time. The effect is steamy and erotic. The guitar and overamped bass twin perfectly, with sonic washes fluttering through the mix.
Clavier sings duet on the shimmering lament "Lágrimas Viejas", and lead on the trip-hop tango "Ojalá".
"Efemera" walks a club jazz-meets-fado line with Karina Zeviani singing lead. It's dark swirling synths and rhythms pulse and phase.
Other standouts include the midtempo, skittering beats and bass-blasted "13", with Aubele's guitar claiming as much authority as his voice, and the tribal, digital dub-tango "El Meiedo".
Ultimately, "Berlin 13" is the record Aubele's been trying to make since he started: it fulfills the promise of his earlier recordings while expanding his restless musical vision to become a new high-water mark". T Jureck.
The songs never stray too far from his roots in Buenos Aires, however the beats are heavier than on previous efforts. Maybe his time in Berlin lent a bit to the whirling mix of sounds, possibly representing pulls in different directions in his life in those tumultuous times.
It makes for good music when you can channel your emotions.
Favourite tracks: "Berlin", "Bohemian Rhapsody in Blue", "Efemera", "Lágrimas Viejas".

Gran Hotel Buenos Aires
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2011
I have been a fan of this gentleman ever since his debut effort Gran Hotel Buenos Aries - back in 2003. Even though I can't understand a word of Spanish, Federico Aubele's music has always succeeded in striking an emotional chord with me and that should be the point of music right? Well on Berlin, he does attempt some songs in English - the intensity of the tracks, the sheer quality of the music and the atmosheric effects are all in place. It's a quality album to chill out to, a great album to introduce your friends to...great for late summer evenings, dinner parties or cold ones round the barbeque...BUY IT!!!
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