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Music Review: Del Castillo – Infinitas Rapsodias

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Take a dash of English, add in a pinch of Spanish, stir in some flamenco guitar, add a rock ‘n’ roll rhythm section, and you have Del Castillo.

Del Castillo, a band from Austin, Texas, had its origins in the year 2000, when brothers Rick and Mark Del Castillo brought their flamenco style of guitar playing together to form a band that incorporates Latin rhythms with a rock foundation. It all adds up to one of the more unique and powerful bands on the music scene. Today it is joined by vocalist Alex Ruiz, bassist Albert Besteiro, and drummer Mike Zeoli.

It has been touring extensively the past couple of years, supporting such diverse artists as B.B. King, Don Henley, Buddy Guy, Bela Fleck, Willie Nelson, and Los Lobos. The group has received two SXSW/Austin Music “Album Of The Year” awards for Vida (2002), and Brotherhood (2006).

Del Castillo returns now with their new release, Infinitas Rapsodias. It contains a CD of new songs and re-envisioned older tracks, plus a DVD that includes a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the album, as well as the band jamming.

The CD is an eclectic romp through a variety of styles all fueled by the twin lead guitars of Rick and Mark Del Castillo. “Lumbres De Babylon,” “Fuego Egipcio,” and “Mujer Angel” are all fine introductions to their sound and prove that you can indeed front a rock band with two flamenco guitars.

My main handicap when listening to their music is I don’t speak or understand Spanish, so many of the lyrics are reduced to the background. I focus on the music and rhythms, and there, the band is on solid ground as the music swells up and down. The two guitars meld together as they expand and contract the sound, while the bass and percussion pulsates in the background.

The most unique track is “Amor Venme A Buscar,” which features a duet between Ruiz and German opera diva Anna Maria Kaufmann, which is about as eclectic as a vocal pairing can get.

The high-definition DVD presents the band on a more personal level. It includes the video version of “Canta de Alma,” which is also included on the CD. The 25 minute video of “Lighting The Fires Of Babylon” allows this group to expand and improvise as it twists their music out of shape before re-assembling it.

The Texas band also provides covers of The Doobie Brothers’ “Listen To The Music,” Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World,” and a stinging guitar version of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” all under the title “Live Jam Session.”

Del Castillo is a band whose sound travels in a number of directions but in the end, it is energetic, powerful, and will leave you fulfilled, which in the world of music is more than enough.

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