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Radio Tarifa: Cruzando El Rio

Spain’s musical past courses through the enticing sound of Radio Tarifa, which imagines itself as a vortex based on the southernmost tip of Spain. From this land’s end, on the Mediterranean cusp between Europe and North Africa, the influences begin merging and the Madrid-based trio at the heart of the project–Vincent Molino (wind instruments, keyboards), Benjamin Escoriza (vocals), and Fain S. Duenas (guitar, bass, strings, percussion)–were happy synthesizers with a multitrack recorder and a discriminating multi-culti attitude.

Radio Tarifa made a sizable noise around the world with the release of its 1996 album Rumba Argelina, and then on 1998’s Temporal. After a two year recording hiatus comes the new one, Cruzando El Rio, a fascinating continuation of their distinctive cultural work. The sounds are ancient and modern, from sonorities that sound Moorish and Moroccan to the plugged-in slither of a backwards electric-guitar solo on El Viaje de Lea. Spain is clearly the crux of Radio Tarifa’s interest, and its musical range includes Iberian, Castilian and Andalusian elements, but Japanese music isn’t out of the question, as heard on “Gujo Bushi.” The title tune (translating to “crossing the river”) is a teasing fragment, a traditional tango that runs all of two-something minutes before fading into the Spanish sunset. So goes the album, luring us into a musical experience at once immediate and impressionistic.

Originally Published