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CD Reviews: Torrential tropical music reigns

Brazilian and Latin musicians, via San Francisco and Boston, join British electronica wizards, via India, to redefine global musical styles.

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Just try to imagine what a bunch of Brazilians transplanted to the Bay Area would create in the way of a punky samba sound. This exuberant band with a Clash-meets-Carnival sensibility makes a joyous noise while singing mainly in giddy Portuguese, or less convincingly on 2 out of 13 original songs in flat English. The album's title references a Brazilian bistro, although their percussive electric guitar attack and frenzied percussion make one think of a Bahia-based garage band. Some girl from Ipanema would catch a fever from their fire.


In spite of personnel changes during their quarter century, this Boston-based band has maintained a steadfast Pan-Latin tinge entirely their own. A constant has been the leadership of guitarist/singer-songwriter Brian Amador and his wife, Rosi, sensitive interpreters of Chilean, Venezuelan, Cuban, and Mexican traditional folk songs, as well as original tunes with those flavors. This is the most diverse and accomplished album of Sol y Canto's career, opening with a dramatic burst of jazz-flamenco singing and closing with an aptly named instrumental titled "Like Flying." Midway is a penultimate romantic Cuban ditty about kissing. Rosi's vocals winningly modulate from coolly coy to warmly committed.


This is the second release from British electronica music wizards Garry Hughes and Andrew T. Mackay, known by the moniker of "Bombay Dub Orchestra," a suspiciously arty name. But BDO upset my suspicion by gathering together a distinguished group of traditional musicians from southern India in recording studios in Mumbai and Chennai and reverently recording their traditional works performed at white heat. Armed with these tapes, the duo returned to their London studio and began layering various electronic sounds tenderly on top of India's finest. The result? A hypnotic pop sound encased in icy orchestral strings, heated by wailing vocalists.


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