Santana: Multi-Deminsional Warrior

Music Reviews Santana
Santana: Multi-Deminsional Warrior

August artist proves that the war is not yet over

More history lesson than mere musical recording, this two-disc set allows listeners to follow the bread crumb trail that led to this iconic musician’s prodigious successes, and learn how he taught his guitar to speak and feel, long before the flashy multi-platinum collaborations and colorful skull caps.

Revealed over the arc of these 28 songs is the very underpinning of Carlos Santana’s guitar, ground both in his Latin roots and spiritual ethos, an ethos that spans back to when people still thought music could make a difference, change the world, heal a broken heart. With this collection, he sets out to prove that those principles are remain valid, espousing and refining the ideals that put him on the Woodstock stage even before his first album was released.

Few of his fellow ’60s progenitors have retained those lofty values the way Santana has, and the songs on this album serve as a not-so-gentle reminder of how insistent he is, brandishing his guitar like a sonic flame thrower to relaunch those ideas into a still-wounded world. Combing through his own archives—stretching across 40 years and three labels—Santana came up with tunes that fit the tenor of the times, and he fills the need for a more stringent spirituality, adding new guitar to two tracks and overdubs to five.

His musical onslaught heats up on “Brotherhood,” which, with a twitchy solemnity, reminds listeners about the importance of compassion, soulfulness, harmony and especially oneness. Even the austere Shaft-like vocals—which border on hippie-speak—can’t deter from the strong performance and insistent groove: The song seethes with danger and urgency, from its first anxious drum fill to its menacing bass line.

For a man who claims his goal is to “cast a spell” rather than play pristine notes, he seems able to do both. The second disc, which is instrumental, shows Santana as a virtuous player and a master at setting a mood, or in the case of “Curacion (Sunlight on Water)” actually capturing nature on disc. His deft hand and sensitivity can make listeners feel as if they’re walking through water, or at the very least being saturated by the sound.

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