The title of the Columbian trip-hop band’s third album is a perfect moniker for their sound. An elegant tropical vibe is exactly what lead track “Bosque” delivers, with sultry vocals from Liliana Saumet over a down-tempo groove with psychedelic undertones. The song would make for a great pool side sound on a warm tropical night.
Bassist Simon Mejia is the musical mastermind, dialing up a variety of beats and grooves for the charismatic Saumet. The band’s star has risen thanks to their unique blend of cumbia-powered jams, electro-shimmering layers of sound and catchy riffs from the guitars and synths. Combine this with Saumet’s incandescent vibe and you’ve got one of more compelling musical stories of the past few years as festival audiences throughout the world have found.
The band has to be seen live for maximum effect because they do like to jam the tunes out a bit, and Saumet is a dynamic performer whose talent goes to a higher level onstage. But Elegancia Tropical does a solid job of capturing what the band is all about. Tunes like “Alma y El Cuerpo” and “Sintiendo” feature a relaxed yet groovy sound that conjures chilling at the beach. But the band also steps out with high-energy party tunes like “Pure Love”, with a bit of a dubstep sound and spitfire vocals from Saumet, and the electro-funk of “Caribbean Power”.
There’s also some team-ups with “Rocas” featuring a hip-hop duet with Brazilian MC B Negao, and a mashup of Angolan beats with Buraka Som Sistema on “Mozo”. “Lo Que Tengo Que Decir” sounds like Saumet is spinning some sort of intriguing tale, a la Jim Morrison American Prayer style. You can’t tell what she’s saying if you don’t speak Spanish, but the effect is still compelling.
“For this album, we still use the same elements — the Caribbean and folk music, and electronic and rock sounds-but in a more mature, more minimalist way. It’s like having all this tropical essence, but more subdued and organized”, Mejia says in the album’s press release. “The sound and the lyrics are not so in your face, but a bit more processed, more conceptual. It was like we moved from expressing the outside to reflecting more about the inside”.
The concept makes for a dazzling sonic experience, perhaps best ingested with your favorite rum drink.