Review Guarco – Fiebre
I was really disappointed upon first listening to Guarco‘s debut album Fiebre. The press release spoke of an artist who had learnt his craft in Montevideo, perfecting Afro-Uruguayan rhythms on guitar. I expected an album bringing the complex rhythms of Eduardo Mateo, the energy of Ruden Rada, even the cascading melodies of Jorge Galemire. Fiebre didn’t live up to these expectations, but it did provide many a pleasant surprise.
Rather than thinking of Guarco as the artist who could possibly bring attention to the Uruguayan artists that I love so much, it was important to think of Guarco in the same company as Manu Chao or Mr Pauer, mixing a myriad of influences, of which Afro-Uruguayan rhythms are just one component.
Even then, it takes a while for those Uruguayan influences to surface on the album. “Rey de la Selva”, the first track is the one that reminds me the most of Manu Chao, with a laidback off-beat rhythm and almost rap-style delivery, erupting occasionally into it’s Latin rock chorus. It’s followed by “Que Pasa?”, essentially an up-tempo dub track which shows a more subdued style of composing, as opposed to the rousing chorus of the first song, which allows for the minor keyboard melodies to slowly worm their way into your head.
It’s on the third track “Monster” when a little of the Uruguayan influence creeps in, with the half bossa nova guitar, half Afro-Uruguayan percussion style of Eduardo Mateo. It’s definitely the highlight of the album, a gorgeous melody with guitar, piano, bass, percussion and vocal all offering something a little different but which concludes with a cohesive whole.
After that there are some misfires such as “Esta Heavy Man” which heads deep into ska territory, an area that has been explored many times before, and more successfully, and the Strokes-lite distorted riffs on “Never Stray Away From Home”, which is essentially a really bad New York street anthem.
After some strong tracks at the start of the album Fiebre does lose it’s way, possibly trying too many styles, especially styles which really shouldn’t exist on the same album, but it does pull itself together again for the last three tracks; “Se Termino al Carnaval” unites the spirit of Montevideo Carnival with a throbbing bass line and an unexpected detour into funk guitar, “Viracocha Llora” is essentially just a beautiful melody and the slowed-down dub version of “Que Paso” allows the groove of the original to really stretch out.
So there you have it, Fiebre was not what the press release said but it is an interesting album that brings some fresh ideas to the Latin/reggae sound, with at least a handful of tracks that are well worth your attention.