Este Mundo - Rupa & The April Fishes

Cumbancha

It's painfully obvious to we mere mortals that some among us have emerged from the deep end of the gene pool. When we last left Rupa Marya, she was balancing her time between promoting ExtraOrdinary Rendition, the critical darling of a debut from her band, Rupa and The April Fishes, and minding her patients as a practicing physician. Trust me, it's not easy. I had to give up brain surgery because of the combined demands of being a broadcaster and an astronaut. For a group grounded in diversity, their first album was even more diverse than most debuts. Now, these musical free spirits have released Este Mundo (this world) seemingly widening their embrace beyond primarily Gypsy swing and French chansons, to include stronger flavours of Colombian cumbia and Indian ragas and more. Rupa calls it, "a collection of sounds and songs highlighting life's accidental beauty and surging joy as well as their inexorable partner: human suffering." None of that intellectual stuff about chicks and cars here. But, don't worry too much about wrapping your mind around Este Mundo's deeper meanings. This is first and foremost a recording for audiophiles. Oz Fritz was recruited for his engineering mastery to add this disc to his long list of collaborations with studio nit-pickers like Tom Waits, Primus, Bill Laswell and Elvis Costello. The production reminds me of T-Bone Burnett's, where acoustic instruments charge to the front of the sound spectrum to solo and then retreat into odd rooms and atmospheres. Rupa's dexterous, in your ear delivery is enticing, (dispelling any notion that doctors have to sound like Hugh Laurie) while the band is driven to fits of gypsy frenetics, an ability I tend to think they fall back on a little too often. The Latin influences on tunes like Por La Frontera, Culpa de la Luna and La Estrella Caida really make Este Mundo spin.