Refree ‘La Otra Mitad’ LP/CD (Glitterbeat) 3/5

Every so often flamenco renews its long established roots with attempts at combining with other musical genres to create a new fusion. That has been the case of flamenco jazz, nuevo flamenco, and flamenco ida y vuelta, where traditional flamenco has taken on new flavours from outside of the Iberian peninsular, most notably from Latin American music. Here, the sound of electronica and flamenco together has been experimented with. Two separate 10″ releases are brought together on this single CD and offer contrasting sides to the equation. The Refree in question is Raül Refree, a noted producer, particularly of singer Rosália, and he is ably assisted by the collaborative work of experimental rocker, Lee Ranaldo who is a member of Sonic Youth. One, a film soundtrack, ‘Entre dos aguas’, concentrates on the more traditional instrumentation, while the other uses the latest technology to incorporate elements of classic flamenco vocals (from singer Roció Márquez aka El Bolita, to be more precise) into a more contemporary electronica beat. This sampling of voice material is certainly not a new device, but is coupled here with new sounds. On the title track, for example, the flamenco singer’s voice is allied with a dissonant guitar that is straight out of the Bill Frisell school, while on ‘Niño Perdio’ the combined sound of electronic keyboards and Márquez’s flamenco voice, make for an interesting contrast of styles. On occasion, the high-pitched vocals can overwhelm the instrumentation, as on ‘Que Te Vayas’, but it does nonetheless offer a dramatic intro to proceedings. On other pieces such as, ‘Dar a Lua Mixt’, the electronica contribution is akin to that of a small transistor radio and the tinny sound emitted and one wonders what, if any connection, there may be to flamenco. Watch out, however, for one of the major up and coming voices in that of flamenco singer Rosaliá who performs on other recordings to the accompaniment of an hip-hop beat. A brave attempt at infusing traditional flamenco with contemporary beats.

Tim Stenhouse