NEW AGE / Ottmar Liebert

Borrasca – OTTMAR LIEBERT and LUNA NEGRA – 1990

I found this lying in my dad’s study room, so I thought, “Hey, what the hell. Let’s listen!” I did get a solid lesson in reviewing 101- do not listen to something with preconceived expectations. That was my problem, as I was expecting a full on sexual tsunami of Flamenco guitar shredding. It wasn’t, and I was slightly disappointed by the end of it.

This cover should have had a band picture, you egotist!

This cover should have had a band picture, you egotist!

Anyway, I don’t know quite how to categorise this record. It has horns, Latin rythms and flamenco guitar. I guess I’ll file this under New Age, thus adding another new category to the burgeoning range of music that we listen to at thatdoesntsoundright. The songs themselves contain a mix of Salsa and Rumba rythms that bring to mind lovely women in colourful skirts dancing in the flattering Andalusian sunlight, except that the dancer here is the guitar. All that’s missing is a less produced and more ‘live’  feel (which I miss) and a fat man in a huge Sombrero shouting, “Ola!” Err…probably.

Even though this is a Ottmar Liebert’s solo album with the Luna Negra band, I can’t help but feel that rhythm section here is so competent as to credit this as a full band effort- only Luna Negra as opposed to Ottmar Liebert + Luna Negra. Consider this a Latin music playing version of Cream, and you have something of an idea of how this album sounds. It’s a flamenco-salsa-rumba power trio.

Though not all the songs are awesome, some really stick out proudly. “In the Hands of Love” is like a bed of soft and pillowy fretless bass punctuated with scintillating specks of guitar notes. It’s great music to have sex to. “Dancing under the Moon” is a good display of Mr.Liebert’s hyperkinetic right hand finger picking on the guitar. Sometimes it tends to descend into the abyss of Kenny G-dom, which is avoidable for anyone who is so lauded. The horn section wasn’t really needed here, as the core power trio is enough. I keep gravitating to bassist Jon Gagan’s soft and mellifluous sound, free of unnecessary syncopations and heavy in sensual slides and ringing notes. Oh, and his intonation is fantastic.

Despite the great qualities this work has, I have two issues with this. As I said, I wanted full on Flamenco, and didn’t get it. Secondly (and this is slightly abstract), I think the band is confused on whether its making a record that is to be heard exclusively with rapt attention, or lounge music that adds atmosphere. As a result, I’m left wondering exactly what question this album is answering. Its good music, but if it’s intended to be heard exclusively as a band effort and a studio album, I think it’s not too successful. As a relaxing accompaniment to reading, a few drinks or as mentioned- sex, it succeeds wonderfully. A bit more flamenco, a bit less frippery, and this would sound very right.

– El Bajista


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