El Desierto y La Ciudad [The Desert and the City], the third studio album from NYC’s Pistolera is a bold and stunning departure for the band. Written in two opposite locations – but with equal balance – the album is a soundtrack for a journey between the peaceful laid-back spaces of the wide-open west and the urban grit of New York City.
El Desierto y La Ciudad, the third studio album by the highly regarded New York City–based Pistolera, represents a daring departure from the band’s previous releases—conceptually, musically, lyrically, and spiritually. Mexican-American band leader and songwriter Sandra Velasquez, whose previous two albums have slyly hinted at her full artistic vision, now displays the wide scope of her songwriting capabilities and a willingness to push her band’s sound beyond the dance floor.
The CD was designed as a throwback to the days when albums were conceived of as complete works of art and appreciated in their entirety.
“I’m a bit nostalgic,” Velasquez says. “I remember the days when people listened to albums from beginning to end and were rewarded for the experience.”
Velasquez says she created El Desierto y La Ciudad with distinct “A” and “B” sides. As she describes it, “This CD is a travelogue of emotions. The A side places us in thoughtful solitude in a vast desert, where dreams are formed. The B side then transports us to the hustle and bustle of the New York City streetscape, where dreams are fulfilled.”
El Desierto y La Ciudad’s rich sonic palette encompasses rock, Latin, dance, and balladic styles, with evocative lyrics and musical interludes that capture the spirit of the two very different landscapes. It finds the band traveling to new musical destinations, where polkas cohabit with cumbias, waltzes are smitten with dancehall, ballads find refuge in electronica, and rumbas head to the dance floor hand in hand with tejano rhythms. Longtime Pistolera fans will be surprised and delighted by El Desierto y La Ciudad. New followers will discover a vital new musical presence. Everyone will hear new details in each song, every time.
“Our music is not easy to categorize,” Velasquez says. “I think that’s what makes it interesting.”
Providing expert backing once again to Velasquez’s songs are bandmates Maria Elena on accordion, Inca B. Satz on bass, and Sebastian Guerrero on drums, augmented on several of the “city” tracks by the horn section from La Excelencia, one of New York City’s most spirited Salsa and street music groups. The band demonstrates that it is up to the task of helping Velasquez realize her expanded artistic vision with gorgeous, delicate, and intricate playing on the introspective tracks, including “La Despedida” and the stunning CD-closing “Floating.” The band shows its continued commitment to social issues as in the fiery “Nueva York”, about the economic disparities of their hometown; the hip-hop inspired “Escucha”, which vents frustration against anti-immigrant ideology; and the relentlessly passionate “Todo Se Cae”, about the instability of the economy and remembering what is important. Embracing it all in a magnificently compelling sonic landscape is the production of Grammy Award Wining producer Charlie Dos Santos.
Clearly, Pistolera is a band on a dramatic and rewarding creative journey, and Velasquez is an artist on a unique path of exploration and expression. Wherever Pistolera ventures next – desert, city, the edge of the universe – we can’t wait to go along for the ride.
El Desierto y La Ciudad is due out July 12, 2011. Track it down in the desert or city nearest you.
WRITTEN MATERIALS TO DOWNLOAD
10.16.11 – Joe’s Pub – New York, NY (w/La Santa Cecilia) [9:30pm] (related site)
11.04.11 – Latino Arts – Milwaukee, WI [7:30pm]
11.06.11 – Mayne Stage – Chicago, IL [Doors 6:30, show at 7:30] (related site)
“El Desierto y la Ciudad”