Marfer 1976 / Pharaway Sounds 2017
Retrofuturistic acid-spiked jazz from Spanish drumming legend.
The sounds of señor Sánchez are seminal for Spanish popular music’s adventurous fringe and beyond it – given his percussion enriched selected numbers by Misses Streisand and Ross – but this long-play is Pepe’s first foray into rock field as a band leader. “Rock” is as loose a term here, though, as a “disco” label of the drummer’s early ’80s endeavor, because he’s always been a jazz proponent, and that’s what drives “Regresión” off the beaten track. With bulerías at the album’s core, there’s never a dull moment on the unmistakably Iberian record where adventure is the name of the game.
And the game is groove – brisk in the titular dance, an epitome of Pepe’s psychedelic stance, and frivolously funky in “Sentimiento” – which has wispy woodwind and breezy brass bound together in a series of gripping improvisations and woven tight to keep the listener on their toes, as surprises are abound among these cuts. From cosmic castanets and classical piano of “Paisajes” to the “Für Elise” foundation of bonus “Encuentros en la 5ª dimensión” and the madness of “Cantares” that’s as light and gracious as a feather in the wind, Sánchez’s pieces create a perpetual, blood-pumping rhythmic swirl whose grip is unrelentingly sweet. More so, for a contrast “Nostalgia” may combine typical ’70s MOR with spaced-out synth waves, while “A mi tierra” emerges as the most powerful marriage of Andalusian motifs and prog freedom.
That’s why if “Renacimiento” draws ivory romanticism out of avant-garde guitar flurries and turns funereal march into a translucent, trumpet-stricken tapestry, so fitting for a finale, single “Love Me” is a playful foray into pop territory of sci-fi stripe: the result of it all was destined to be vertiginous. A guilty pleasure, of course, “Regresión” would remain suspended between the future and the past.