I can't think of a better way to describe the music of Rodrigo y Gabriela than with three words: "heavy metal flamenco." And yet the duo doesn't play heavy metal — its members perform instrumentals on nylon-string guitars — nor does it play Spanish dance music. But the term fits because the pair's fierce guitar riffs feel powerfully electric, and because Rodrigo y Gabriela's rhythmic style showcases a frenetic strum that conjures the energy of flamenco.
A Mexican duo living in Dublin, Rodrigo y Gabriela just released an album called 11:11, which pays tribute to the pair's heroes — Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Astor Piazzolla and Pantera's Dimebag Darrell among them. It's quite a stretch to travel from the bruising heavy metal of Pantera to the tango of Piazzolla, but it all works. What flies from those fingers wouldn't even seem human had I merely seen it on YouTube. But I got to see them play live at my desk, and I can say that it's not only real, but also magic.