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Mena; Toni: Ludic Group

Offering up jazz, with hints of rock, urban rhythms and afro-beats, Toni Mena has assembled Ludic Group. Twelve tracks which range from straight, laid back music to lose yourself in, to some more challenging themes that blur the lines between genres and styles. At times the album grabs you attention through the classy, yet unobtrusive guitar work from Toni, although often the real focal point comes from the tasty saxophone contribution from Gabriel Amargant, who consistently adds a variety of smooth and sharp shards of melody to overtly laid back ideas. However as you get to know the likes of the atmospheric and ever evolving "Relatius", or the altogether more lively "Llamada Desconocida", the reality that the four musicians on this album are really its true strength becomes clear. Both of these songs benefit hugely from the expert bass playing of Tito Bonacera, whose ability to drive the songs on, while simultaneously holding them together is a vital cog in the Ludic Group machine. No less vital however is the percussion persuasion of Mariano Stelmberg, which punctuates, both through its gently seductive nature and its pinpoint precision.

Impressive though all four protagonists are, the issue with Ludic Group comes not from the musical ability, but from the struggle the four-piece have in maintaining the interest across twelve songs, which while based in different genres and ideas, come out sounding worryingly similar. Too often the album is rescued from blandness by a glorious sax line, or a smart little burst of guitar. However with the same tricks used to try and break up all of the songs, they soon blend into one another, leaving you a little bemused as to which track is which, or even having your attention drifting away from the music altogether. The swing meets jazz of "Mr. Sabelotodo" breaks free, through its wonderful ride cymbal work and splashes of earthy guitar and sax, while the frantic, focused groove of "La Matanca Del Porc" is utterly irresistible. However these moments prove to be too far and between, especially once you have spun this disc numerous times.

Had Ludic Group been a little more daring with its arrangements, something the sparkling production would have highlighted, it could have been a most persuasive CD. However all too often you find your attention evading its deeply buried charms, almost forgetting it is playing at all...

Track Listing
1. Piramidal
2. Telegrama
3. Mr. Sabelotado
4. Ultima Alternativa
5. Relatius
6. Circ De Boques
7. Llamada Desconocida
8. Vacaciones
9. Convencional Show
10. La Matanca Del Porc
11. Harry Goes To Sausalito
12. Decayendo

Added: June 15th 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Toni Mena Online
Hits: 1689
Language: english

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