Ojos de Brujo was a flamenco roots band based in Barcelona, Spain. The band caused a stir in international music circles in 2003-2004 with its flamenco fusion. The group whose name means ‘witch eyes’ created a popular mix of flamenco with funk, samba, reggae and other forms of world music. One of Spain’s most popular live musical acts at the time, the group was composed of musicians on flamenco guitar, bass and percussion; a DJ and a dancer and featured the captivating lead vocals of Marina Abad.
Said Xavi Turull the group’s percussionist: “We live in Barcelona and we live strong – always out in the streets so we’ve always lived rumba catalana and flamenco puro really strongly. But when Marina came into the group we became even more focused on flamenco. Our roots got stronger and we became more confident when we experimented with other styles. We became more solid – more of a band.”
The second album Bari took its name from a word in Caló – the Gypsy (Roma) dialect of Spain – that means roughly ‘finding the groove in life’ – the same way you do in music. Xavi Turull explained: “Bari is a word that Ramon, who’s Gypsy, picked up from his grandmother. It’s kind of like the feeling that everything in life is working right. That everything feels good.”
Techari came out in 2006 and was released in North America on February 2007 on Six Degrees Records. It is an ambitious self-produced journey recorded both abroad in Cuba and New York as well as in a studio at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains close to the birthplace of Salvador Dali. “One of the pressures of success is to look for ways to stay true,” said Xavi Turull. “And we are really trying to find a way to be free. That’s why the new album is called Techari because it means ‘free’ in the gypsy language.”
Work on Techari started at the end of March 2005 and was completed at the end of October. In between the band did two international tours which stop-started the recording process. “Recording and touring at the same time was a little crazy but the result is amazing,” added Xavi. “We are finally at a point where the sound is exactly the way we want.”
Special guests included Faada Freddy from Senegalese hip hop collective Daara J, Asian Dub Foundation’s Prithpal Rajput and Nitin Sawhney, South Indian fusion artist and British TV star (who returned the favor after Ojos de Brujo collaborated on two tracks for his album Philtre).
Cuban pianist Roberto Carcasses also made an appearance alongside respected flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela and Cuban tres/flamenco guitar player Raul Rodriguez from Son de la Frontera.
Cuban drums were used in bulerias, funk was layered onto rumba catalana and dhol drums add an Eastern flavor to the mix. However the band was quick to point out that these collaborations were the result of new friendships and not any cynical marketing strategy.
The Techari bonus CD-ROM featured work from fourteen illustrators from around the world, each represent the individual nature of the fourteen tracks fifteen translations of lead singer Marina’s emotionally-charged lyrics and three full-length videos.
Lenacay, Calima, Marinah and Kejaleo are bands started by former Ojos de Brujo members.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.