Sunday, May 2, 2010

Album Review: El Existential-Grupo Fantasma

El Existential, the new album from Grupo Fantasma out May 11, 2010 on National Geographic Records, is an energetic, free-flowing, collection of songs that blend a diverse array of elements and sounds. Following their Grammy-nominated third album Sonidos Gold (2008), Grupo Fantasma has made a name for themselves for their ability to combine Latin musical styles with psychedelic rock and funk elements to forge a trademark style all their own. El Existential exemplifies that style from start to finish.

The range on this album is truly impressive. They go from downtempo Cumbia to hard driving rock from song to song. Certain songs like Realizando, the album’s first track, emphasize the psychedelic funk aesthetic, which fosters an interesting mix with the accompanying more traditional-Latin sounding horns, vocals and percussion. The band’s horn section really makes it presence felt throughout the album. The multi-layered rhythm section provides a vibrant backdrop over which the horns resound.

El Exisential was recorded in the band’s home studio in Austin. GP purposely avoided the corporate studio route to immerse themselves in a collectively occupied homestead, so they could create communally in a non-corporate, domestic atmosphere engineered to foster collaboration and experimentation. You can hear the homemade, analog production quality when you listen to the album. Similar to Daptone Records’ signature sound, the soul and character comes across through the speakers.

This album was my introduction to Grupo Fantasma, and it made a great first impression. The album drops in a little over a week, definitely check it out.