Harmonia Mundi/Chant du Monde
274 1502

Antonio Placer is a singer. He does not work as a singer, he is a singer. Every fiber in his being sings. That said, some of his recordings can be a bit much, with his vocal inflections tiresome at times. But not so in Cancionista. This recording begs to be repeated after the first listening. Placer assembled some very nice voices around himself to perform his compositions. The great vocal talents of Sardinian singer Elena Ledda, Simonetta Soro with her background in ancient music and Jakes Aymonino adding baroque knowledge mix well together. On the instrumental side, Placer invited jazz and classical pianist Jean-Marie Machado and guitarist Stracho Temelkovski, the latter also known for his rock and electronica work.

So there is a wide variety of musical backgrounds coursing around Antonio Placer and it works out beautifully, with styles like opera and tango flamenco flavored with colors and tastes form around the Mediterranean. This results in theatrical, almost vaudeville-like effects. Traces of the old Zappa on Cuba even shine through in "Para Bakum Kunkera" before it kicks into full swing-piano-driven frenzy.

The singer in every cell of Placer's body is not self-centred and makes plenty of room for the other great voices. The poet in Placer leads to long operatic lyrics, only a few times reaching too high into his ultimately limited upper tenor register. Where interaction with other singers and instrumentalists occurs, the captivating tension returns and Placer's voice gets really interesting in expressing his emotion.

With all these influences incorporated into a unique mix, Antonio Placer creates a whole new style of beautiful music. His creation rises well above the label of world music and for us, Cancionista is already a classic, a magical outing of musical eclecticism. However, the mastering once again hits the 0dB ceiling on too many occasions and that limits the dynamic range to an average of 10 to 12dB throughout the recording.