Rodrigo y Gabriela: Rodrigo y Gabriela (Deluxe)
In the end, shredding is shredding, and genre borders don’t matter much. The spiritual kinship between rapid-fire flamenco guitar playing and the machine-gun riffage of thrash metal shouldn’t have really been any big surprise, but when pyrotechnic-acoustic-guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela emerged on the American music scene, light bulbs went off and devil horns went up. To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Rodrigo y Gabriela’s self-titled proper debut, the pair is giving that record, which featured ear-catching covers of Led Zeppelin and Metallica, a deluxe, remastered reissue—complete with a few bonus tracks and a previously unreleased 2006 live recording from Dublin’s Olympia Theatre. Rod and Gab know how to build crazy tension and explosive release by toggling between speedy sixteenth notes and triplets, dialing down dynamics, striking the bodies of their guitars to get battering percussion sounds or contrasting glassy runs on the high strings with the thrumming grit of bar chords on the low strings. Gabriela does some serious heavy lifting in the rhythm department; her wrists do some superhuman things. One can even hear hints of reggae in places, like on the live version of “Tamacun,” the single from the record. The pair makes muscular music that is still delicate. The duo got its start as Mexican musicians who moved to Ireland, playing in pubs there before building up a huge following. And so the cross-cultural mash-up element has been a part of Rod and Gab’s thing from the start. If there’s another element in common between metal and flamenco, then it might be a classical-leaning taste for exuberant chromaticism unleashed in virtuosic bursts.