wed 21/11/2018

CD: Sonido Gallo Negro - Mambo Cósmico | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Sonido Gallo Negro - Mambo Cósmico

CD: Sonido Gallo Negro - Mambo Cósmico

Healing energies from Mexico

Esoteric cover art by Dr Alderete

How many albums today feature a sorceress on the harp, an instrument more often played by winged angels? "La Bruja de Texcoco", a practising witch and healer, is one of several Mexican musicians who join Sonido Gallo Negro in their latest and very danceable exploration of Afro-American rhythms.

Packaged with a handsome sleeve covered in esoteric hieroglyphics from Dr Alderete, this is music that offers healing energies to the listener. Drawing from the rich mix of traditional Indian and African influences that bathe the Caribbean, with lilting beats and a good deal of soul, the group continue in much the same vein they have established over several albums, substituting careful production for the raw energy of their live performances. This is music which requires bodily response rather than careful armchair listening, and something of the essence is inevitably lost in (digital) translation.

There are examples of danzon, porro, cha cha, cumbia, but above all mambo: not least the legacy of pioneer Perez Prado, the 1930s Cuban giant who played a crucial role in the bridging of the courtly European traditions that ex-slaves aspired to, and a flavour of Africa that seduced the white world with an irresistible mix of the spiritual and erotic. The word "mambo" has origins in African ideas about "news" or "teachings". This music was never just about entertainment. With the lascivious dances that accompanied and influenced it, mambo is above all a means of channelling the spirits.

Surf guitar is something of a cult in Mexico, and Sonido Gallo Negro’s sound is characterised by twangy echo-laden riffs reminiscent of The Ventures: distortion is a way of connecting to the spaces beyond ordinary consciousness, and not just because of the space and sci-fi fantasies that the sound so easily evokes. The ever-present Farfisa shares the same aesthetic, sounding at times like Ray Manzarek’s mind-expanding keyboard on early recordings of the Doors. The joy of Sonido Gallo Negro’s relaxed wall-to-wall embrace lies in a combination of hipster irony and a genuine passion for music that allows us a glimpse of the other side.

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