Good album. Santana sounds reenergized. It probably doesn’t hurt that the amazing drummer is his wife.
92 responses Add your response
The first time I listed to Africa Speaks, I had a very strange reaction. The music is incredible. The energy and feeling is incredible. My reaction was this: it took me back to the first time I heard Axis Bold as Love. It isn’t like Axis, it just took me back to how I felt when I discovered that album. Don’t know why, but Africa Speaks took me right back to 1967. It was like an involuntary memory, like remembrance of things past. No other music has ever done that. Powerful.
Nothing can ever beat anything from Woodstock for those who were in a "Woodstock frame of mind" at that time. Since I'm one of those individuals, I simply shove that comparison aside.
This is Santana's best ever; it has the maturity and vision that comes with age and wisdom. The more you listen, the better it gets. That statement is applicable for those who speak Santana's language and know where he's coming from.
Until and unless someone trustworthy tells me Santana has stopped compressing their music to death and gone back to the days of dynamically interesting albums like Abraxas, I will take a pass.
The closest anyone above comes is, "Don’t know why, but Africa Speaks took me right back to 1967." But that could mean anything.
Seriously, no one even thinks to comment on the way a once great talent completely sold out to the dark side? On an audiophile site? Circling the drain, we are.
It seems that everyone is comparing Santana to their last favorite Santana going all the way back to "Woodstock"; that was 50 years ago, how much have you changed since Woodstock?
I've followed Santana all along since then, I understand how he's developed his universal global philosophy; he doesn't consider himself a citizen of any country, but a person in harmony with all mankind. That's in strong contrast to most people.
At the time of "Abraxas" I was into Abraxas; at this time, I'm into "Africa Speaks"; the album is quite apparent and speaks for itself; some people like chocolate while others like vanilla, that's the nature of music.
Agreed ... This is the problem with so many recordings recommended on this and other audiophile sites. In my opinion, compression and artificial digital reverb is the ruination of commercially released recordings these days.
I do understand what people like about recordings that are drenched in artificial reverb. It makes the sound stage sound larger, but to me, it sounds as though the music is coming out of a cave. Totally artificial sound. Live music doesn't sound like that.
Come now, the OP did ask “What do you think?”. What do I think?
I like Santana. Soulful guitar player with a distinctive sound even if, as a soloist, he strikes me as a bit of a one trick pony. I like some of his “citizen of the world” musical conceptualizations, but some of these don’t quite work for me and they strike me as both a little forced and a little “lite”. I agree with Chazro, and his Buika clip is a good example of something that pushes a lot of the same buttons conceptually; but, for me, is more successful.
Thanks for posting, OP; always good to keep up with certain artists whose latest efforts I would not have heard otherwise.
Orpheus10, apparently not following his own thread asks:
"Seriously, no one even thinks to comment on the way a once great talent completely sold out to the dark side? On an audiophile site? Circling the drain, we are."
The reason I say "apparently not following his own thread" is a couple others besides me have made the same point. You missed it, and may regret asking, but I am more than happy to expand and expound.
Ever stop to ask yourself what exactly it is about the very best music that makes it the very best music? Maybe you have. Then again maybe not. Even if you have though I bet the one idea that never came to mind was it walks the thin line between order and chaos.
Order, because there’s rhythm. But nobody wants to hear a metronome, so we introduce a little chaos. Change it up a little. Syncopation. Tempo. Whatever. Melody, we repeat but just enough, not too much. So we have a chorus, see? Neil Diamond comes along, what is so freaking good about Done Too Soon? Its a unique song structure unlike any other. Go on, listen, you will see.
Got it? No? Dynamics. Volume. Even the best melody, most fascinating lyrics, you name it, nobody is gonna want to listen if it just drones on and on and on never varying in volume. That is not even music then. Its noise.
Which brings us to Santana. Check it out. http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=Santana&album=Africa+speaks What this is telling you is they compressed the hell out of it. (And notice, the LP compressed less than CD- and I thought records lacked dynamic range? So much for that old trope!)
Abraxas is famously good music. Was listening to it just the other night. One can’t hear this on my system and not feel Santana’s mastery over the power in that electric guitar as he takes a note from barely audible to skull searing and back again so fast you’re like did that really happen? Compare that to Supernatural or Africa, where the whole damn album from track to track every millisecond is just skull searing loud. Noise. Not music. Noise. What you have when you compress it this much. Abomination.
Why? Now we get to the sell out. A lot of music is still played on car radios and other formats where people are doing lots of distracting stuff while absent mindedly searching and randomly switching for something cool to go in the background. Pretty much the opposite of what audiophiles do, which is why its so dismally circling the drain that hardly anyone here gets this and I have to expand and expound on what ought to be manifestly evident. Because Carlos Santana gave in to the dark side, let the producers compress his music into noise, all to get the fleeting attention of the short attention span crowd in order to sell them a few more copies of noise.
Well, you asked. So there you go.
I heard him in Vegas at House of Blues last January and really enjoyed it and then again at The Woodlands outdoor amphitheater and enjoyed The Doobie Brothers more that opened for them there.
I think I received the Africa Speaks as a “freebie” with tickets purchased.
Didn’t make it through a complete song is all I’ll say.
Maybe another spin is in order or maybe the drastic DR had something to do with it.
Especially when they attempt musical analysis and philosophize about musical matters in incoherent ways; then, go on to focus on the after-the-fact “compression” of the music which is a production value and ultimately has little to do with the artistic merit of the artist’s message. Don’t think I would enjoy this recording the same way, but I enjoyed “Abraxas” on my Ford Capri’s crappy radio more times than I can remember.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend, who is knowledgable in the recording arts. Have you ever noticed that on so many LPs, the first cut has inferior sound to the rest of the record, which may actually be really good? My friend tells me that it is because that first cut is compressed to smithereens because it was intended for radio play.
Abraxas is amazing.
Especially when they attempt musical analysis and philosophize about musical matters in incoherent ways; then, go on to focus on the after-the-fact “compression” of the music which is a production value and ultimately has little to do with the artistic merit of the artist’s message.
1) Incoherent? Where?
2) The artists message. Where is this message? Other than in the compressed music. Please explain.
Incoherent because, FOR ME, the problems with that Santana recording are not the compression. That is not what makes the music, FOR ME, much less successful than recordings such as “Abraxas”. Sure, it would sound better if it had not been compressed so much....a little. But, it would still lack memorable melodies and the excitement of “Abraxas” which was the result of its place in time. And, it would still have Santana guitar solos which, TO ME, have sounded too similar for quite some time....been there, done that, kind of vibe. I like some of his “musician of the universe” vibe infused music, but I just don’t think that this music works all that well.
The net level of dynamic compression that is the result of listening to an uncompressed recording in most car radio environments and the resulting negative impact on the music are, in my experience, no less than that experienced when listening to a more compressed recording on a high end system. That is not the make or break aspect of the total listening experience for me.
To answer your second question, sorry to answer it with another question: So, are you suggesting that you don’t get the “artist’s message” listening to a great tune while listening on your car radio where the net level of dynamic compression is also high?
The title of the album is "Africa Speaks" and I didn't hear Africa Speak; Buika is Spanish, that's where she was born, and she's speaking Spanish not Swahili.
I still like Santana's guitar, it was varied enough for me; but since it had Africa in the title, the album needed more African hot sauce. Maybe he should have borrowed Blakey's drummers;
Compression for radio is just capitalism at work. So now you are pissed at the very God you pray to ?
some of us actually own compression tools and use them - with a light and deft touch, unless the artist and producer wants the heavy hand. Not normally at a small studio for economics.
also, for the vinyl freaks and RtR fans there are many forms of compression, so intentional some not.
of course the same cuts at 33 vs 45 sound different- wonder why ?????
I am into dynamic range as much as the next person, likely more so. However, it is unfortunate, that many listeners who spend a considerable amount of money on audio gear ( my definition of an audiophile ), listen to recordings, putting the musical content, 2nd. If the sonics are not great, many listeners I know, will not play it. Coming from a live, un-amplified music background, the majority of recordings suffer from compression, over equalization, and so on. The recordings we buy, stream, whatever, will never be, anything like the real thing. However, I can still enjoy it all, because I put first, the musicianship, the artistry of the writing, of a piece of music, the arrangement, which is the ability, of putting it all together. This is a nice addition to my Santana catalog, and he, as far as I am concerned, has still " got it ".
geoffkait, hello buddy....if you are suggesting that I not listen to my Rolling Stones, Beatles, Led Zep, Satriani, P.Floyd, Santana, Billy Joel, Journey, and so much more, because of a lack of dynamics, I can tell you, I would have very little to listen to. Yes, I have the Telarc’s, Chesky’s, Sheffield’s, etc., that have greater dynamic range, but even those, are far from the real thing. My Jazz collection on the Blue Note label, for example, is better in SQ, in most cases, but my listening is diverse, and I accept it all, as listening to music, " my way ", brings me the pleasure I am looking for. A great example of this, was mentioned by me, in another post. Would I rather listen to a newbie sax player, someone not very articulate, with his instrument, in an environment such as Carnegie, with me in the front row, or, would I opt for the playing, of say, someone such as John Coltrane ( this is an example, as he is deceased, fyi ), in an environment, that sounds like an airport bathroom. Let me see.....talent, or, acoustics ? I would rather listen to Coltrane, given the either / or, but yes, both would be nice. Recorded music, is what it is. And given my system has the ability to deliver dynamic range in all of it's glory ( I can connect mic's and guitars, using a mixer, and get closer to live ), as I doubt, many high end systems, would not handle this, and fall flat on their faces. I invite anyone to try it.......YMMV. Enjoy !
geoffkait, hello buddy....if you are suggesting that I not listen to my Rolling Stones, Beatles, Led Zep, Satriani, P.Floyd, Santana, Billy Joel, Journey, and so much more, because of a lack of dynamics, I can tell you, I would have very little to listen to.
>>>>>And this is somehow my fault? Besides, I differentiate between somewhat compressed CDs and overly compressed CDs. In the case at hand it’s waaaay over-compressed. That’s why I called it flatlined. I.e., All in the RED. Hel-loo!
Right. You won't find a lot of free thinkers here I'm afraid, rockysantor, its mostly a special snowflake/NPC kinda crowd here. If this really is one of those not a citizen of any country collectivist claptrap type deals that's just one more reason to give it a pass. On top of what we already know about how bad it sounds.
Oh, good Lord!
Deep in the jungle
Beyond the reach of greed
You hear the voices of spiritsWith their frequency of light
Making sounds like the crackling of stars at night
Communicating with plants, animals, and mankind
Affirming the universal truth
All and everything was conceived here in Africa
The cradle of civilization
The few make it worth the effort. You’ll just have to trust me on this. I get PM’s. Difficult as it may be to fathom, hard as it may be to swallow, there are other people with other points of view, people who don’t care all that much for being preached at, but neither do they appreciate snotty comments like yours, so they keep quiet. Not me. So snark away. Take it as a badge of honor, I do.