by: Intocable

The highway has been a way of life for Intocable, though it has proved cruel at times. In 1999, the band lost two of its members and a roadie to a car accident. They soldiered on relentlessly with a healthy respect for the road. Here they look metaphorically at all the aesthetic twists and turns in the traveling musician's life. While never abandoning classic norteño, Intocable expand their reach through explorations of cumbia, rock, blues, and country music. First single (and closing track) "Tu Auscencia" was chosen not only for its danceable rhythms but for Ricky Muñoz's impassioned singing in a great hook. The lengthy "En la Obscuridad" offers slightly dissonant, overdubbed accordions in waltz time that clash with crisp snares and reverbed psychedelic guitars. It's a jarring yet dreamy track that sounds like circus music stitched onto a dark norteño ballad. Second single "Cuestion Di Tempo" was originally written for Bebo Zapata of Pesado. He appears with Muñoz in a duet of male longing and loss. "Dia 730" is equal parts norteño and cowboy country. The narrative is a poignant tale about human trafficking accented by the innocent sound of a children's chorus. The effect is chilling. "Quiéreme" (Ámame)" is a classic midtempo dance number with cumbia hardwired into the rhythmic attack. The electric guitar riff in the intro to "Sueno de Amor" is pure '80s, but it gives way to a sweet, romantic cumbia. "Te Perdono" grafts rugged rock & roll onto dancehall norteño. "Usted Me Encanta" pushes cumbia over toward reggae and merengue with a melody drenched in Tejano roots. Muñoz's singing and accordion playing sweeten its soulful tropical groove. "Día Sin Ti" is schizophrenic. It commences with a Led Zep "Kashmir"-esque guitar riff, then shifts into folk music before rock, Tex-Mex, and honky tonk come together in cut time. The rural norteño in "Quizá No Sea Tarde" is tempered by bluesy guitars with an almost-Cajun-styled accordion adding an even spicier flavor. "Cuando Me Vi en Tus Ojos" offers reggae drum breaks, rolling two-four accordion vamps, and deeply moving four-part vocal harmonies. As an album, Highway reflects the many musics and stories Intocable have encountered on their journeys through the Americas. Each song is a signpost. This is a creative gamble, but it's executed without compromise and Intocable sound like no one but themselves. The quality and integrity of material and performances won't just carry over legacy fans, it will resonate with new ones, too. ~ Thom Jurek

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