Voodoo Lovin’

28 10 2007

Voodoo Love

COLOMBIAFRICA – THE MYSTIC ORCHESTRA
Voodoo Love Inna Champeta-Land (Riverboat Records)

In one of the most colorfully decorated and extensively titled albums of recent years, this collection of musicians offers resumes as extensive and diverse as the name suggests. Champeta originated in Cartagena, a seaport city on the northern coast of Colombia. Like many coastal cities, where tourism and wanderers converge over centuries, styles and sounds blend into new staples. Thus, the roots of Champeta: African styles including Afrobeat, Soukous and Highlife, along with the Latin rhythms and percussion that inform many Afro-Latin forms. This particular record is a Buena Vista-style of collaborators, handpicked by Lucas Silva to expand upon the style. The record showcases this diversity, and really is a far-ranging escapade through numerous forms. The constants include incredibly clean and lush textures of electric guitar, probably stemming from the Highlife and Soukous side of things, as well as long, drawn-out grooves pulled from Afrobeat. The call-and-response, and often freeform, vocals invoke an atmosphere of community and celebration, two factors that are the roots of numerous African and Latin musics. Like much African guitar music, the production is geared toward treble and the high end, with blasts of brass interspersed; the grooves are embedded within these melodic aspects, and while amazingly thorough, do not punctuate the full potential of these songs. For these fourteen tracks are excellent, the musicianship superb. There are, in fact, so many musicians involved in a rotating character cast that to name them all would be to miss the point. Again, this is music of community and celebration—of dancing, really—so to single out everyone would be frivolous. What matters is the exceptional blending of cultures and flavors in every moment, and outside of those few production mishaps—the feeling, while vintage, could have been given at least a slight facelift—it is an album of magnitude and gravity, two qualities accomplished by only the most devoted of artists. DB

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