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ChuCha Santamaria y Usted

ChuCha Santamaria y Usted

(Young Cubs; US: 28 Jun 2011; UK: Import)

They're right -- Fanta ES fabuloso!

Reportedly there’s a concept buried inside the self-titled debut ChuCha Santamaria y Usted, something about the complex historical relationship between Caribbean people and the U.S., and how that parallels the complex relationship between hi-hats and synth arpeggios in all your favorite disco genres—I count freestyle, Italo, motorik, the hard-charging Pitbull stomp, and maybe more. The album may also describe how Puerto Rico’s “Fiebre Tropical” equals a tropical fever on the dance floor. Since I don’t speak Spanish, I’m not sure. Thankfully, as with all good concept albums, ChuCha Santamaria y Usted’s music doesn’t need its concept. Matthew Kirkland’s synths play a thinned-out version of early ‘80s hi-NRG, only without the 4x4 thumps. He’s got bass churgles and he’s not afraid to drop ‘em, but the focus is on the treble sounds—mallet percussion and lush Moroder-esque ostinatos that suck you into their rippling propulsion like a wave pool. Singer/wordsmith Sofía Córdova sings in inglés, español, y Vocoder, carefully unfolding her melodies with stately restraint. She never sounds like she’s reaching for the high notes, and her low notes just sort of drift into the heat haze. You’ve been here in your dreams.

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Josh Langhoff is a church musician. He's written about music for The Village Voice, The Singles Jukebox, two EMP Pop Conferences, his church newsletter, and his blogs NorteñoBlog and Surfing in Babylon.


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