Nuevo Ritmo, Joe Crepúsculo
Canada (Records), Spain
by Jean-Stephane Beriot
Joe Crepúsculo is not a perfectionist, or as obsessive as Brian Wilson. This was my immediate thought when I learned Joël Iriarte’s fourth album was actually a reconstruction of the many hits accomplished on his previous 2008-released albums Escuela de Zebras & Supercrepus, his last album Chill Out (2009) was apparently omitted. The album's title Nuevo Ritmo gave us a hint of Crepúsculo artistic continuum, but the reformation, enhancement, and re-enactment of his past songs make up for a complicated surprise.
For the last three years, Joe’s pop-avant premise has been unmatched by anyone else on his field; there are plenty of bright individuals on the techno department, but very few of them to rely on when it came to finding an escape from the ordinary. For the first time in his career, he is taking us to common places, and that’s one of the last attributes we would expect to find in his persona. Nuevo Ritmo isn’t a betrayal on the fans or the artist's vision; it’s actually a brave and romantic proposal. Crepúsculo, a pop adventurer, explores the sounds of the West on this –relatively new- record. The result is a hit-or-miss album of Americanized conjuncture and romanticized Latinism.
The best pieces in Nuevo Ritmo resolve around South-American rhythms, which Iriarte seems to be genuinely attached to. When listening to “Escuela de Zebras” one can’t help but think he’s been listening to Pibe Chorros a bit too much. First single “Tus Cosas Buenas” is spectacular; the corner where disco strings and reggaeton meet Wendy Sulca. Spectacular, but also misleading as most of the new versions are diminished to softer (and less-uncouth) structures. Other tracks that get optimized with new clothes include “Baraja de Cuchillos” and “Amor Congelado.” If we were to extract the country-inclined and North-American pieces, we would be left with a much more pleasing set (including the four new impressive tunes).
The critical reception of the album has been lukewarm among Spain’s most critical sources; perhaps a viewpoint from this side of the world can put things in perspective. And here it is: no matter where you’re from, or how physically-distant you might be from a particular subject, we simply don’t get very aroused by art assembled in new packaging. But don’t get it wrong, Nuevo Ritmo isn’t an opportunistic record by any means; it’s a conceptual album that reaffirms Iriarte’s status as an uncompromised author. If this review seems like a total-panned text, it’s only because we truly feel we’re in front of one of the most unique artists of our generation. Nuevo Ritmo is not a bad album by any means; it’s just a difficult experience for those of us outside the ‘crepus’ orbital.
Nuevo Ritmo, Joe Crepúsculo