What better way to keep things warm and joyful as autumn steps into view than with nine brand new compositions from guitarist extraordinaire Victor Samalot? Bursting into life with Mofongo, the music has the rhythm and swagger to lift you out of your seasonal haze. His unique style of playing comes with so much skill and a mesmerising fusion of speed and delicacy that it’s a pure pleasure to experience.
Cafe Puerto Rico follows the upbeat energy of the opener with a mellow and, as mentioned, perhaps more delicate performance that sets a chilled yet equally blissful mood. The world-influenced sound and rhythm of the music throughout this collection is beautifully calming. Victor Samalot’s creativity on top of this presents an instrumental journey that quite intensely transports you from one moment to the next, as if from the beach side to the cafe to the bar, even up into the hills and beyond.
The title track has a touch of rock confidence to it that reminded me slightly of Santana’s work from back in the day. The varied ways in which the artist here can play and captivate with a single instrument is endlessly impressive, and the arrangement of these tracks makes for a soothing and ever-interesting musical adventure.
El Torero offers yet another rhythmic shift in terms of the story-line explored by the lead guitar. As you approach the central section of the song, the driving sound switches from finger picking to a strum, later evolving through a compelling bass line and really maximizing that hypnotic effect when skill and creativity are so successfully paired. This track alone has so much detail and so many moments, that it feels like a much more complex and epic piece of entertainment than a single four minute composition should allow.
The mood is brought back down to a dreamlike and reflective calmness for El Hombre Sin Nombre. The space here allows the single wave of synth chords and the guitarist’s playing to create a sublimely atmospheric ambiance, whereby each of the two elements play off of each other and utilise the contrast to hold your attention intently from start to finish. This is so well placed within the collection, and once again highlights how spectacular a musician Victor Samalot really is. His reach appears limitless, as does his love for music.
Struttin’ is a song that hits with a certain style and confidence as those opening few bars of music meet the implication put forth by the title. It all makes perfect sense and comes as an uplifting and bright piece of music at this point, loaded with the right kind of energy and good vibes to lift you up high. La Plaza follows on well, a track which actually seems to be perhaps the most widely accessible or even mainstream of the project. The guitar melody moves from the major to the minor with absolute intent and just a touch of familiar feeling drama. The ongoing chord progression behind the melody also has that nostalgic and comforting familiarity, though you get the freshness of the leading story to keep you interested, and you actually get a really notable hook here – a forever memorable musical moment that will strike as easily recognisable from here on in.
Streets Of Barcelona is a uniquely structured and interestingly crafted piece of music which, at this penultimate moment within the project, keeps that flame of possibility burning brightly and reminds you of how creatively free these compositions are. The leading riff here has a certain personality about it, again making sure you remember it, and even having you singing along somehow to this instrumental chorus.
One For The Road brings things relevantly to an end, though it’s likely to have you turning back to track one to go through it all again. This final composition has a beautifully acoustic sound that showcases in an unquestionably raw manner the true ability and brightness of the artist. This is as if he is right there in the room with you, with only a guitar and a head full of stories and ideas. It’s a short piece, under three minutes long, but a moment of incredible talent and expression captured superbly. Without question, download this album. You’ll never tire of the feeling you get from the music.