El Regreso del Gallito (The Return of the Rooster) takes its inspiration from the sounds and landscapes of Paraguay, the small South American country unbeknownst to many outside its borders. Paraguayan composer and producer Santi and Turkish singer Tuğçe take listeners on a tantalizing journey into this “island surrounded by red coasts, in the heart of South America”. El Regreso del Gallito also marks the duo’s first time collaboration with U.S. based visual artist Scott Partridge, whose artwork perfectly captures the somewhat familiar and somewhat magical world of the album.
The opening track, Gallito, begins with a bold, orchestral string section, and quotes the popular Paraguayan polka “Gallito Cantor”. The spoken poetry announces the return of a mysterious traveler, with a strange voice and burgundy crest, to his native land. This track, like the rest of the album, reveals the compositional approach that Santi takes to music production in which he writes and sequences every single note and beat for all instruments. Based on this opening track, Scott’s cover art for the album depicts the mythical Gallito, which- like the album itself- is a novel interpretation of the folkloric elements, in this case, gallinas de suerte or “lucky chickens”, of Paraguay.
The second track, Doña Antonia, tells the story of a street vendor who travels each morning from her home in Yaguaron to the capital city Asuncion to sell her medicinal herbs that cure everything, from heartbreak to oblivion. The track is sensual, mystical, and up-tempo. In a “world that keeps spinning without compassion”, Doña Antonia’s song (and her ice cold tererê with lemon) reassure the poet, the dreamer, those who are disheartened, of possible relief and even transformation.
La Revancha del Arpa, humorously named after Gotan Project’s debut album “La Revancha del Tango”, brings to the dance floor the intricate melodies and waterfall-like textures of the Paraguayan harp, the instrument that is at the center of the Paraguayan musical genre of the Guarania. Like Gotan Project’s “La Revancha del Tango” which gave tango its electronic sound and international revival, in La Revancha del Arpa, Santi extends the Guarania outside of its Paraguayan conventions and immerses it into Latin America’s vibrant electronic music scene and beyond.
The fourth track, San Juan, is a grand celebration, based on the traditions of many other neighboring countries throughout Latin America. Weaving together polyrhythmic percussion, deep bass, synthesizers, the energetic accordion and the playful harp, this upbeat track is filled with fire, dancing, and daring games. Even the mysterious Gallito is back on the scene calling for community and musical innovation.
In the last piece, the journey comes full circle, as Santi and Tuğçe give us their rendition of what is perhaps the most known Guarania of Paraguay, Recuerdo de Ypacaraí. Santi’s hypnotizing harmonies along with Tuğçe’s soothing vocals turn this timeless song into a lullaby which takes us back to a night by Lake Yparaci and invites us to remember and linger on.
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