So, my mistake, but I initially got this band mixed up with Circo Fantasma, an amazing Italian band. Get that out of your head right now. This band doesn’t sound Italian, but they sure don’t sound American either, well, unless by “American” you mean expansive and jazzy Latin Funk.
The thing is, this band has been around for about ten years, and do not come from any place that initially makes me think of Latin Funk. These guys are from Austin, but play music that sounds as big as the world. They’ve definitely been around, as well. From backing up Prince in Vegas to a few Jazz festivals in Montreal, New Orleans, and the Netherlands.
Honestly, this is not the kind of music I generally listen to, unless I’m hanging out in some nice Mexican styling restaurant, but I’m open to new sounds, new experiences, so I’ll stumble through the similes and try to give you something good to hold on to.
First off, I’ll give all you indie types something to hold your interest. Falling near the end of the album we’ve got the song “Telaraña,” a swank and swingin’ little jazzy groove going, moving kind of retro Latin psychedelic, featuring the talents of one Curt Kirkwood, him of the Meat Puppets. Got it?
So, back to the beginning.
From the first song, “Realizando,” throughout the album, there is a fantastic balance of styles. Mostly through the sonic juxtaposition of the rhythm and horn sections, which create decidedly Latin / World Beat influences, mixing with the rock and psychedelic folds and chords of the guitars. This music definitely has a nice flavor, and even though I can’t really understand the lyrics, I do appreciate the taste. Evidently there is a strong Cumbia influence at work here, and about that I can only tell you that this is something that originated in Colombia, and grew out of a courtship ritual. Learning is good.
The horns definitely have a more traditional Latin feel, but when mixed with some of the more American desert drifts of the guitars, you get some nice moods in the mix. The third song, “Sacatelo Bailando,” starts out with a nice upbeat trip-hop kind of groove, like something you might hear on a Digable Planets album, and then you move into the jazzy beat and the strange but not out of place Stevie Ray Vaughan sounding guitar flow. Then there’s “El Consejo,” an upbeat but dirty funk groove that would make Greg Dulli sweat. I know, not a pretty picture, but it had to be said. The vocals kind of move it up and out of the shadows, but the rhythms keep it tied nicely to a gritty street side growl.
According to guitarist Adrian Quesada, quoted in the official Groupo Fantasma bio, the theme of the album deals with “…betrayal and deceit, surreal dreams, growing older and wiser, and of course women and relationships.” All that, and you can dance to it.
More by this writer:
UNKLE - Where Did the Night Fall
Night Driving in Small Towns - Serial Killer
Holy Fuck - Latin
Rykarda Parasol - For Blood and Wine