The Expanding World of Malpais
Just six years ago, the Costa Rican band Malpais released their first album, “Malpais Uno”. The music, a kind of modern folkloric sound with Guanacastecan roots, received an immediate positive response from the public. Malpais had filled a void. In 2004, for their second CD, “Historias de Nadie”, the five piece band added Gilberto Jarquin as a second drummer for most of the recordings, working alongside Carlos “tapao” Vargas, percussionist extraordinaire. The band liked this new addition and the group grew to six members. The listening audience approved, too, as the fan base of the band skyrocketed. By the time they recorded their third disc in 2006, “Malpais En Vivo”, they had become the most popular band in the country, verified by the crowd response on this live CD. The album was also notable in that it introduced some new songs and used female vocalists as well.
Nowadays, a new Malpais album is a national event. Their newest offering, “Un Dia Lejano” is sure to please their current fans and certainly bring the band new ones at the same time. The two CD package contains twenty six songs, well over an hour and a half of music, including a studio version of “Rosa de Un Dia”, which was introduced on the live album. Daniella Rodriguez also made her debut on the live disc and has stayed on to provide lead vocals for some songs and backing vocals on others. Daniella is a good example of how the band has grown over the years, adding personnel and expanding their musical directions.
The band has always been a prolific group of musicians, each with their individual projects. Fidel Gamboa, the main songwriter, obviously he had a good number of new songs to unveil. I like the fact that the band released a double CD album because it gives the entire group a lot of room to play and demonstrate the various musical directions they are pursuing. Make no mistake, Malpais has remained “true to their school” of Guanacaste folk influence. But it’s also nice to hear Fidel rip through the guitar lead on “Efecto Mariposa” like I have never heard him play before and the entire band Rock & Roll their way through “Derechos de Autor”.
Other new musical shapes and colors on the album include Manuel Obregon leaning on his Hammond organ, stretching the notes, and the whole band rendering a symphonic sound at various times throughout the album. The chorus vocals are rich and more harmonic as well, a kind of new instrument for the band.
As always, Papaya has done an excellent job with the packaging of their product. The CD case is a double fold-out with a separate booklet for each disc, containing lyrics and other pertinent information. Everyone involved in this album is obviously very proud of their accomplishments. They should be: “Un Dia Lejano” shines brightly.
The new Malpais album and all Papaya CDs are available at the Jaime Peligro shops in Playa Tamarindo, Quepos and Tilaran, where they will gladly play the music for their customers. All comments concerning this article are welcome.