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Del Castillo | Infinitas Rapsodias

album review by John Powell

Del Castillo | Infinitas Rapsodias

As you would hope, Del Castillo provides us with the slick, timeless Mexican-flavored anthems that transport you to desert nights in some mystical place. Curly-mustachioed freedom squelchers capture senoritas, and heroes soar in with sabers, pistols, and sidekicks.

It’s certainly stereotypical, but charmingly so, and there’s never been anything wrong with embracing the folkloric aspects of music. Over ten years in, Del Castillo have toured globally and picked up a remarkable array of fans, and appeared in films by Robert Rodriguez and Quenton Terrintino- just to help you understand their flavor better, a swish of campiness grounded in true artform. I mean, they are a stellar band.

Drumming up comparisons to the Gypsy Kings, the Brother Del Castillo- Mark and Alex, duel on classical guitars, Alex Ruiz kills it as the bard, with a massive range and knack for the throaty grit required to keep up with the band. Mike Zeoli destroys on drums and Albert Besteiro has that heafty BOM BOM bass that ties the whole thing together.

The opener really says it all. “Lumbres de Babylon” is a seven-minute epic that begins with a funky bass groove, the guitars twirling like roses tucked behind ears and red dresses curving in the wind. Alex Ruiz comes in crooning. “Algo de mi/bailando (something about me dances)” he sings. “Baila mi hermana/mi hermano/sigue bailando (dance sister, dance brother, and keep dancing).” It’s not totally groundbreaking lyrics, but the intention is feeling. The guitars swirl in again, halfway between classic rock and mariachi, and it just zings off for three minutes, building and building until a guitar solo is a million notes per second.

The only way to discuss the guitar play is ferocious. I’m worried my stereo will burst into flames; it’s so intense. The song incorporates sound bites or a racous crowd, which isn’t off the mark. Songs like this would get any audience throwing their hands up, screaming. It will make you want to swing from chandeliers.

That’s just song one. Many of the other tracks follow those theatrics. Whistling, harmonica, shouts, and thick bouts of hand percussion are added in, along with a series of guest stars, throughout the 13 tracks.

“Mujer Angel (womanly angel)”, slows everything down, turning the group into balladeers. Finger picked guitar draws up a pop-centering, accentuated by sexy drums and Alex pouring his heart out. “Ah, mujer, (Ah, woman,)” he laments. The guitar solo sears, a lovemaking solo if ever there was one.

“Brotherhood” is a folkloric tale that begins, “Seven brothers from seven mothers/from seven different lands.” It’s the only song in English, without missing a beat. All these boys are from Texas, after all, and have great sense of their Mexican music and what the U.S. will get into.

A highlight is “Rios Misticos (Mystic Rivers)”, presented here as a dance remix. Synths, booty-shaking synth drums, and other alterations weave in the flamenco guitar and Alex’s, “Rivers of life/rivers of love/are you.” This song deserves a club’s speakers, thumping, different, awesome.

Del Castillo’s winning points are, well, the whole freaking band. The guitars stand out because they’re so prominent, but everyone pulls their weight. Infinitas Rapsodias delivers in every sense. The CD version has a bonus DVD that talks about the making of the album, and shows us that although this group is a powerhouse, everyone is super chill, friendly, and creative.

You have to indulge in this Latino Magic music to really get into Del Castillo, but if you have any love for Mexican guitar, songs about passion and nature, and stuff you can dance to and cry to, look no further than Infinitas Rapsodias.

Bottom line: More from the boys that sum up what makes a Robert Rodriquez film so awesome.


 

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