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Willie and Lobo - Maņana Print E-mail
Tuesday, 25 February 2003

Willie and Lobo

format: CD
label: Narada Worlds
release year: 2002
performance: 7
sound 7
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

ImageWillie and Lobo is the duo of violinist Willie Royal, and guitarist Wolfgang “Lobo” Fink. While their easygoing music is sometimes lazily categorized as New Age, something like world music lite is a far better description of what they actually do. Manana reveals how Willie and Lobo soak up sounds from almost everywhere around the globe -- just like a couple of gypsy sponges -- and then filter these exoticisms through their individual and collective talents.

The New Age tag can likely be traced back to just how softly these two musicians play together. Compositional inspiration comes not from dreams of space travel and delusions of reincarnation -- subject matters all too prevalent in the New Age music world -- but from literal world travel. For example, “El Desperado,” which carries with it a melody quite similar to Don McLean’s “Vincent,” is introduced with the following words: “This song was written in the 17th century village of San Miguel de Allende.” Similarly, “Sacromonte Sunrise” is preceded by: “Inspired by the gypsies who live in Sacromonte hills of Grenada, Spain.” But all is not completely National Geographic-ready here, however, as the intro to “La Bolita” reads: “Definitely influenced by the ‘70s southern rock days…gypsy style!” At last, a little rock geography for a change!

There is a clear Flamenco influence coursing through these tracks, especially on account of Lobo’s acoustic guitar sound. But many tracks, such as “El Tubo,” also appear to be jazz-related. This is because Willie’s violin playing can sometimes come off almost exactly like muted trumpet tones. This jazz association is also due to the unplugged acoustic nature of Willie and Lobo’s arrangements. One hears plenty of acoustic bass, various shakers and percussion instruments and very few elements that are obviously electronic.

Different ears will probably listen for different elements in these songs, as there is so much going on in the various mixes. “La Bolita,” for example, starts as a slightly funky, blues-y thing, before breaking into a fiddle-led gypsy work, whereas “Laura Lorenza” utilizes just a touch of harmonica in order to clearly distinguish it from the rest of the album.

Willie And Lobo have ambitiously stated that their intention for this album is to take the listener on a journey, either in their imagination, or deep within their own heart. And while Manana isn’t quite this transcendent, it’s nevertheless a pleasant combination of many wide-ranging musical styles.

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