Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Easily the musical highlight of my weekend at Latitude was seeing Rodrigo Y Gabriela for the first time. It's hard to describe what exactly they do as it's not only breathtaking and a wonder to behold live, but something you have to experience to fully understand and appreciate. Having said that, their eponymous album is an incredible piece of work (especially considering it was largely recorded live), and well worth the buy. As you'd expect, the pair's website gives the best description of their sound:
"Rodrigo (Sanchez) and Gabriela (Quintero) are two fast-fingered, Dublin-based, Mexicans with a unique sound created on acoustic guitars. Their music is difficult to define, straddling both world and rock, and often imbued with timeless Hispano – classical influences. The fire in it comes from their life-long passion for metal music. This spring, "Rodrigo y Gabriela," beat both the Arctic Monkeys AND Johnny Cash to number one in the Irish charts.
Rodrigo is a deft finger-picker who can move from raging speed to sensual soul in the space of a fret, while Gabriela employs fast, rhythmic techniques. Her percussionist's thrashing of strings and drumming of the instrument's body inevitably raises comparisons with flamenco – which they acknowledge as an influence but swerve as a pigeonhole. The duo's repertoire flies beyond familiar Latin folk guitarists' styles because of the metal connection: their reworkings of Led Zep's "Stairway to Heaven" and Metallica's "Orion" are musts, and the presence, on "Ixtapa", of the fiery Hungarian gypsy violinist, Roby Lakatos, is inspirational."
I urge you to give it a listen, or if you get the chance, go and see them live. You won't regret it. Incredible stuff.