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World Music CD Reviews Europe

MARTIRES DEL COMPAS

By Tom Pryor
Published September 23, 2005

No Papeles—No Papers
Harmonia Mundi/World Village

Spanish flamenco fusion outfit Martires del Compas (Martyrs to the Rhythm) might not be as well-known as their Madrileño counterparts like Pata Negra or Ketama, but the Seville-based outfit has always been much closer to the music’s Andalusian roots, and their self-described “flamenco billy” has always been closer to the music’s scruffy street sensibility. And though No Papeles—No Papers marks the band’s 10th anniversary with their sixth album, it’s only their second Stateside release (following 2000’s Mordiendo el duende). Luckily, it’s a great place to start catching up on Martires. It’s a back-to-basics album that recaptures the band’s early adventurousness and anything-goes sensibility, with generous helpings of rock, blues and Latin and African rhythms filtered through the band’s impeccable flamenco chops. Bandleader and singer Chico Ocaña isn’t afraid to take on social and political issues, either, as rabble-rousing tracks like “Oh! Galicia Calidades” and “Pinceladas de Buleria” help drive the ugly realities of globalization home. But Martires is at their best when combining the political with the personal, and “Estoy Tieso” (“Flat Broke”) and the lyrical, playful “Serengueti” are masterpieces of sly wit and subtle charm.