Hmmmmmm. Perhaps it would be best if I intro'ed this one by noting that Luna Blanca has been cited on its own website as being "New Age meets jazz meets world meets the happy sound of Bert Kaempfert". Like me, you probably read that last part and thought "Uh-oh!". And, like me, when you hear the energetic and humorous but cellophaney lead track, Los Ojos, with it's array of synth-horns and then synth-vibes rather than the real thing, you're going to follow up that first reaction with "Errrrrr…". I'm here for ya, buddy, I'm here for ya.
It must be said that there's abundant energy present and a wealth of cool ambiance, lush tropicality, decidedly Latinate savor, and the essence of basic flamenco is fairly well preserved with, as in Desperado, some Paul Speer-ish and other elements, but the upshot is kinda like Ennio Morricone after he's had a bit too much Tang or Kool-Aid to drink. Shoulda stuck with the tequila, 'cause all that sugar takes too much off the edge of things. Gabor Szabo found himself in a similar situation long ago: issued some great stuff with Louis Kabok, then the outrageously good Mizrab, but afterwards took some really bad advice and not-so-slowly headed for Mantovaniland…not far from Kaempfertania.
Luna Blanca isn't too distant from that make or break point, and El Dorado is leagues better than what Szabo ended his much too short career with, but it's poised on the brink, perhaps never to tumble past…but nervousness prevaileth nonetheless. On the other hand, I have to observe that stuff like this can go over very well indeed with the right crowd. 101 Strings, Mantovani, and the creators of a plethora of New Age schmaltz didn't get rich because they didn't know what was wanted. Richard Hecks, the lead guitarist and focus of all this just might find himself in a literal El Dorado, given the right succession of events, but the music itself, despite all nuevo flamenco pretensions, is, well done and excellently presented while too invertebrate.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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