Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Various - Latin Concrete (A Modern Latin Beat Suite)

Wanna carnival? Then check out this overview and primer of modernist Latin music.

Every few years, Latin music makes gatecrashes mainstream music's party for a brief but enlivening spell. Be it Fania Records, Santana, or most recently Beuna Vista Social Club. When it happens we're reminded that we actually quite like these sophisticated rhythms and their join-the-carnival comeliness. Of course, beneath the radar this music has never really been away, and continues to progress quite nicely. Its creators and followers hip to the fact like they're members of some exclusive underground club. Judging by this collection compiled and mixed by DJ/musicologist Chris Read, the modern Latin-inspired scene is in robust health, and not confined to the countries of Latin-America.

Released as a 2CD set (1 CD mixed, the second unmixed original versions) Latin Concrete features several genuine Latin stars (Spain's Gecko Turner, Brazilian samba-rapper Marcelo D2, and legendary Puerto Rican vocalist Sammy Ayala), along with a globe-spanning line-up of electronic music makers. Urban New York is expectedly well represented by Brooklyn Hip-hopper Oddisee, Quantic & Nickodemus, DJ Center, and Greenwood Rhythm Coalition. While proof of Latin music's far reaching diaspora is provided by the inclusion of Greece's Palov & Mishkin, Stockholm's Beatfanatic, and rural Germany's Juju Orchestra. Also holding their own is the UK's crop of Latin-inspired artists, Manchester's RSL, Coventry's Color Climax, Brighton's Black Grass and TM Duke, along with London's Jack Baker Trio and Chris Read himself.

It's a well sequenced and mixed journey through bossa nova, samba, and MPB, though it's the spirit of Cuban salsa that comes over most strongly. Traditional rhythms and instrumentation are given a modern flavour with the addition of sampling, turntable scratching and gentle electronic beats. Bongos, whistles, double bass and flamenco guitar proving compatible with the western tinges of funk, soul, disco, fusion and house. Latin Concrete works as both a great introduction for anyone wanting to investigate modern Latin-inspired music, and as a welcome addition for any aficionado's collection.