Tori Sparks' fifth studio album El Mar is a collaboration with Spanish flamenco fusion trio Calamento and friends. The album is a project began as a curious experiment after a chance meeting at a benefit concert. Over months of rehearsals in a basement in Barcelona, a strange and beautiful synthesis sprang from the mix of Tori's blues, rock, and folk sensibilities with the Spanish musicians' atypical take on flamenco and jazz fusion.
The bilingual album El Mar (“The Sea”) features several previously unrecorded songs -- including the title track -- as well as several of Tori's compositions from her previous four albums, reworked into exciting new flamenco-based arrangements. Atypical versions of other artists' works -- including traditional Spanish and Mexican songs, arrangements of themes by Leonard Cohen and Javier Ruibal, among others -- round out the repertoire, making this project representative not only of the group's extremely varied musical backgrounds, but of the strong personal influence that living in Barcelona and having studied flamenco in Granada has had on Tori's work.
From dark and slinky “Everybody Knows” and “Mama,” to Middle Eastern influenced “La Flor de Estambul,” to a countrified version of Manzanita’s “Verde” – from the heart-breakingly beautiful Spanish translation of Orbison’s “Crying” (“Llorando”), to their funky and danceable take on “Quizás Quizás Quizás” – to the stunning mix of blues and flamenco on “Sinner’s Shoes” and the battle between hard rock and Spanish guitars on “Out of The Void” – Tori Sparks’ El Mar is a surprising and emotional record that will leave listeners anything but indifferent. Called "indescribable, incredible" (Deruting), "adventurous, pushing the envelope" (Rolling Stone), and "unique, an amazing album - on of the top discs of 2014" (Orpheo), the new album El Mar is the culmination of Tori's varied musical and cultural experiences since she first started touring over a decade ago.
Calamento are veterans of the Spanish live music scene. They formed as an instrumental trio in Barcelona over fifteen years ago, and since have performed mostly in Continental Europe. The album also features very special musical guests Francisco Guisado ("El Rubio") on electric guitar, vocalists Iza and Joaquin Gomez ("El Duende"), and cellist Manuel M. de Fresno. El Mar was recorded in Barcelona at Feelback Studio with engineer Cesar J. de Cisneros, who won a Grammy Award in 2007 for his work on the Ojos de Brujo album Techari.