Thursday, November 08, 2007

LA XULA - In Xile

A funky, gothic mix of London metro-cool and fiery Madrilena, LaXula’s Monte PalafoX has been one of the most alluring acts on the UK gig circuit in 2007, and after months of growing internet interest, her band LaXula’s intriguing debut CD is at last getting a full UK release.
Opening with La Boulette - a dynamic, hard-hitting hip hop flamenco number of which Ojos de Brujo would be proud — and followed by the glorious, stalking tango-meets-gypsy track Soberbia (which has already been featured on Charlie Gillett’s Sound of the World compilation), In X-ile gets off to an attention-grabbing start. If the album thereafter struggles to match the heights of the band’s seductive stage show, there’s enough good work here to make this is a very impressive debut overall.
In truth, Monte doesn’t have the greatest voice — limited in range, it sometimes sounds flattered by appearing on the same bill as great singers such as Mariza and Cesaria Evora, as she did this year at WOMAD — but she makes best use of its dark, sultry tone as part of brooding song structures like the urgent accordeon, violin and marching drum rhythm that make up Semilla, or when dancing lightly around soft acoustic guitar and teasing accordeon fills on the seductive title-track. And La Luna sees Monte and the band at their epic, intricate best, with large tambourine, flute, guitar and Moorish male backing vocals spilling out new nuances and hidden details with each airing. This and the first two tracks alone make this an album well worth investigating, although the feeling remains that you really need to see this fascinating band and its captivating lead singer live in order to really get the best of them.

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