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Bernardo Rubaja - New Land CD (album) cover


Bernardo Rubaja


Prog Folk

2.00 | 1 ratings

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2 stars Three years after the collaboration with Cesar Hernandez, "High Plateaux", keyboardist Bernardo Rubaja has changed labels to the upstart, Narada Records, and forged ahead on his own, wisely collaborating with a few of the same artists, including trumpeter Mark Isham, percussionist Alex Acuna, flutist and bassist Eduardo Marquez and harpist Stephanie Bennett. Where Hernandez went is not clear, but this production seems to suffer from the lack of that second keyboard player, as it is far less atmospheric and cinematic than the Windham Hill debut. Since the duo's strengths lay in those arenas, "New Land" is at a relative disadvantage, and it fails to compensate with improvements in other qualities.

While the Andean folk influences remain most apparent throughout, at times Rubaja closes in on SCOTT COSSU, MONTREUX, or ANDREAS VOLLENWEIDER territory. An example of the latter is in the opening and best cut, but ultimately these concessions to the new age establishment sound more like a product of that establishment than like an artist sharing his own rooted take on the genre. This tendency is apparent in "Dreamfield" and "Painted Birds", which, while pleasant enough, never attempt to escape their clearly demarcated confines, that of the sprightly flute and piano melody with a few noteworthy percussive touches. Probably the best of the rest is the harp and charango led "Maria", which manages to conjure its lovely namesake while clarifying that neither picture nor musical arrangement could really render justice.

Even as a new age album, "New Land" isn't particularly noteworthy or even challenging, and it's hard for me to recommend unless you are an easy listening fan who doesn't necessarily need or want to remember what you just heard, because you probably won't.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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