Sunday, November 29, 2009

Album Review: Coconut Rock-Ocote Soul Sounds & Adrian Quesada

Sometimes music has a way of transporting your mind into another world, creating a new environment in your imagination, furnished with the perfect soundtrack/theme music. Coconut Rock, the album from Ocote Soul Sounds & Adrian Quesada set to be re-released on ESL Music December 8, 2009, contains that transcendental property to a higher degree than any music I've heard in a long time.

Ocote Soul Sounds is a collaboration featuring founders of two supergroups, Martin Perna of Antibalas, and Adrian Quesada of Grupo Fantasma. Perna drew his inspiration for the project from his experience living in a fishing village in Michoacán, Mexico. He sought to create music that was accessible without a 12-piece ensemble and a baritone saxophone. He began writing guitar music with more "intimacy and immediacy".

Perna and Quesada first collaborated several years ago when Perna passes through Austin, Texas on his way to Mexico. It was when his bio-diesel car broke down on the way back that their collaboration entered its second iteration, giving them the time to finish their first album, El Niño Y El Sol. Their complimentary styles have allowed them to create soundscapes made up of interlocking melodic and rhythmic elements that foster a Latin-psychedelic backdrop, transporting listeners to a funky Latin dreamworld.

Certain tracks allude to different Afro-Latin genres. Tu Fin, Mi Comienzo has a distinctly cumbia feel. Vendendo Saude E Fe has an Afro-Brazilan feel with Portuguese lyrics. Marcos Garcia of Antibalas and Chico Mann is featured as a vocalist on several tracks as well, lending his signature electro-afro voice to the cornucopia of styles present on the album.

Coconut Rock is the type of album you need to listen to more than once. It's a densely layered, intricate collection of compositions that blend influences and styles from track to track. I'll admit, the first time I listened to the album, I was expecting something other than what was there. Being a huge fan of Antibalas, I was expecting more afrobeat, more instantly gratifying grooves that hook you instantaneously. Going back and listening to the album for a second time, I've realized this is an album you that takes time to digest. It's deep. Once you gain access to what Perna and Quesada are saying, you'll connect on a much deeper level. That's when you'll gain access to their world.

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