Aurelio: Fighting for Garifuna in melodic fashion

11th February 2017

Title: Darandi
Label: Real World

Garifuna is a language spoken in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua and its a drum-heavy genre but Aurelio Martinez has introduced one important element to tweak that direction in this, his fourth solo album, his beautiful guitar playing which has a dreamy quality that is almost Joe Meek and Telstar-like in its sound. The album itself has an unpredictable spark, possibly because it was recorded ‘live’ as it where at the Real World studios.

A highly intelligent man, Aurelio, fights with a creative passion to preserve is fast shrinking culture and speaks in a sensible philosophical manner using his music to discuss his people’s social problems, yet the wrapping is inherently melodic and often upbeat.

In mastering terms, the presentation is rather compressed and bright, which is a shame because there is plenty of opportunity for dynamic variation on this CD. Why a strident spotlight had to be applied to the upper mids is a chin scratcher. the effects are especially noticeable during vocal crescendos and guitar solo peaks. That said, such effects will benefit listening to the music at low volumes, as subtle details will be easily discernible.

The mastering should take nothing away from the fact that this is an album displaying a series of intriguing and complex beats that the vocals seem to follow, rather than the other way around. This is an almost percussion-lead piece. It’s only when the rather dreamy, almost glissando-like guitar sequences roam over the soundstage in almost soundscape manner, that the beats back off to allow the songs to disengage and roam free. The combination, of course, produces a attractive tension in terms of the arrangement. Packed with imagination and a conglomeration of cultural styles, Aurelio has himself an album that demands attention and some study.