La Radiolina by Manu Chao

La Radiolina by Manu Chao

Manu Chao not only discovered a new career with his international hit Clandestino in 1998, he discovered a new way of making...

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La Radiolina

Manu Chao not only discovered a new career with his international hit Clandestino in 1998, he discovered a new way of making music. The acoustic-based sound collages of that album, anchored by repetitive melodies and snippets of conversation, were a dreamy evocation of Chao's globe-trotting style. Since then, he's put a band together and become a tireless world traveler, and La Radiolinaapplies the methods ofClandestino to a more amped-up sound. Of the 21 songs, half of them seem to be extracts and recombinations of "Rainin' in Paradize," a chugging rocker that features an ascending guitar scribble, some background whooping, and a litany of troubled locales around the world. Those elements repeat themselves throughout the album, popping up as background noises and reprises, especially on "Mama Cuchara," where the lyric is in Spanish, and "Panik Panik," which brings sirens and guitar solos to the fore over a French vocal. The album's other predominant mood is an acoustic one, on songs like the Flamenco-inflected "Me Llaman Calle" and "La Vida Tómbola," where Chao envisions life as the soccer star Diego Maradona. Ten years after Clandestino, he seems to have lost interest in the prosaic elements of songwriting -- bridges, choruses, and the like -- preferring the construction of one long, varied piece of music with peaks and valleys, combining and recombining. While none of the individual song sketches boast the allure of that album's more fleshed-out work, the whole is strangely compelling on its own, endlessly expanding and changing, just like Manu Chao's gypsy life.