April 9, 2008

You've Never Heard Anything Like This Before

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It’s not going to be hard for you to figure out how I feel about Jorge Drexler long before you reach the verdict. If I had to describe him in just one word, I would say “He’s the best thing you’ve ever [expletive] heard [expletive] [expletive] [expletive].” Jorge’s and my love affair began when I discovered his 2003 album Eco the summer before last. I was rummaging through the CD shelves at my local public library in California like a badger, looking for something new to feast on. They had this relatively obscure album presumably because Jorge had won an Oscar for best original song (“Al otro lado del rio” from The Motorcycle Diaries, the last song on Eco.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsGkf8daDZs
This particular track is a great introduction to his body of work, with the opening off-kilter rhythms of his acoustic guitar that blend with the pure murmurs of his dulcet voice melded into gentle electronic beats.

Jorge is something of a hero in all of Latin America because not only was his the first song sung in Spanish to win an Oscar, but also the gentle soul was embroiled in a bit of a controversy for the ceremony. The academy did not invite him to perform his own composition, instead asking Antonio Banderas and Carlos Santana (on an acoustic guitarist’s song no less) to royally butcher it in front of millions because he was “unknown in the United States”. Here’s the horror for you if you are a masochist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pp_Age-tx3c&feature=related But when Jorge won, he didn’t thank the academy; he decided instead to sing his song into the microphone, the most sweetly sung “fuck you” I’ve ever witnessed. Bad. Ass. Watch the first minute of this video and you can see it with thine own eyes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHGTpO3MVRg

In his live performances, Drexler mixes up whether he brings along a string section and band or if it’s just him and a recording of beats — what is consistent is the Uruguayan troubadour, his guitar, his voice and his literate lyrics (which are en castellano, the accented Spanish you’ll find in countries bordering the Rio de la Plata, Uruguay and Argentina). Think of music you hear when your radio presets get messed up and you find yourself on the salsa-mariachi station–this is nothing like that. It’s also nothing like you’ve ever heard in English.

Every song I’ve heard from him is a masterpiece, but here are some with which you can whet your appetite:

“Polvo de estrellas”, which translates to “Stardust” , “Transporte”, in which you can really hear Uruguayan candombe rhythms, and “Fusion”, which is one of the most superlative love songs in the history of music.

These are all off of the 2003 record Eco, which is a great introduction to the entire catalog. If you don’t know Spanish, his voice will just sound like that guy Raul whispering sweet nothings into your ear on your vacation to Cabo last spring break — always a plus. For those of you who do know Spanish, expect lyrics more literate and profound than you find in 95% of your music collection in English.

If this guy wasn’t married I’d be all over that. Seriously, I’m planning on doing some serious stalking when I’m abroad in Spain next fall, which is where he primarily resides these days. To my knowledge they have much more lax laws about restraining orders in Spain. [img_assist|nid=29566|title=|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]

You, however, should do yourself a flavor and try something new [expletive] [expletive].

VERDICT: thumbs way [expletive] up!!!!!