Higher Octave Music
Meditative New Age setting-meets-deep flamenco guitar on Eric Fernandez's Magic Gipsy (Higher Octave World HOW CD 47705; 43:35), which despite its Enigma-like hybrid aspirations puts forth some exotic arrangements and first-rate play by its featured guitarist. The New Age touches can distract (the programmed hand claps and synth couch detract from the mournful, twisted cries of the Arabian violin on the mysterious "Salam-el-Maghreb"), but occasionally provide a strikingly universal point
of reference. For example, the heavy synthesizer wash and percussion program soften and familiarize the sharp-edged, almost scary Greek strums of "Greek Charm," and the pulsing background of "Adios Andalucia" provides a counterpoint cushion to the needling picks and full-flourish power strums emanating from Fernandez's guitar. Whatever you make of the hybridizations, you can't help but be taken aback by the beautiful, haunting instrumentation of album highlights like "Shalom Israel," rendered warm and strikingly homey by a unique accordion-violin combination, and "Nostalgia Ottoman," marked by the haunting drone of Turk doudouks. The album's title track renders the final verdict on Fernandez's virtuosity, offering an astounding display of blazing guitar speed and dramatic dynamics.