PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Da Lata: Serious

Terry Sawyer

Da Lata

Serious

Label: Palm Pictures
US Release Date: 2003-10-21
UK Release Date: 2003-10-27
Amazon
iTunes

Chalk it up to a good idea gone dull along the way because Da Lata's latest album is a brandy-Xanax pillow mint. It's a shame, since Latin rhythms seem ready ripe to interface with techno's relentless hunger for hybrids. In fact, some of the best records I've heard this year from the new Thievery Corporation and Cibelle, to the blissed out bossa nova of Nicola Conte's project with Rosalia De Souza, have been seamless stitches that simply amplified the juicy sway inherent in their South American swipes.

Patrick Forge and Chris Franck make a competent record by any standard, but there's just nothing here that even fights for your attention. It has hipster boutique written all over it, the kind of instantly backdropped coolness that's effective for not being arresting. Songs like "Nuts" perfectly recede behind an afro pop skeleton that simply loops to the point where you couldn't possibly still be listening. The theft of techno's tendency to hinge on the dubious hypnotic power of repetition leaves the record mired in beats that consistently wear out their welcome. Most egregiously, "Serious", which takes Bembe Segue's hauntingly funky refrains and buries them in a bubble funk morass that spins out its rickety rhythm for an inexplicable six minutes. Trimming the gristle though, would only highlight the scarcity of germinating ideas for this album. Serious really needs an lengthy session of beat therapy, perhaps having Timbaland put a stethoscope to the songs and smacking them all on the ass. Something.

To sucker someone into a trance, you need to first get them to look your way. The borrowed rhythms on Serious sound stunted, muted, and in an odd way, contradictory. "Alice" sounds like the lost shameful marriage between lounge funk and muzak, a horrible amalgam of swishy keyboard, boingy background noises and drum beats with all the pleasant subtlety of Poe's ticking telltale heart. When the songs aren't difficult to notice, they can be hard to endure. "Can it Be?" veers off the path musically, but not the firmly established rut of monotony. Courtney Denni has the misfortune of sounding like a mix between Craig David and Michael Jackson, a fact that instantly condemns the song to a draining R&B undertow. While the acoustic guitar work and drum beats stand out in a much more foregrounded way, they seem completely on holiday from one another as if you're listening to the songwriting equivalent of a conference call. Every musical influence involved on songs like this, which are sadly most of them, have the effect of making you wonder how the experiment in cross-cultural chemistry actually contributes to any one of the elements involved. The techno house vein loses much of its kinetic punch when submerged in lukewarm vocals and beats that sound buffed to the point of fluff and the Brazilian and African rhythms sound flat and driven to such a point of simplicity that they may well be C&C Music Factory songs with bongos.

Chris Franck's also plays with Smoke City, a wonderfully eclectic, trip-hop, bossa nova, techno outfit whose songs take risks, enchant, and activate the listener much more than anything on this record. So it's not surprising that the best songs are those that include Franck's Smoke City collaborator, Nina Miranda. "Distracted Minds" actually slinks and purrs, captivating with Miranda's scent trail of a voice coupled with Baaba Maal's growl. The pull between their voices creates the first sign of creative friction on this album, and it smolders. I could listen to Nina Miranda count gumballs. "Something" also tangles through the speakers with a vaguely Middle Eastern/Tango gloss, pitting Nina Miranda in a gravely give and take with Jhelisa Anderson. The bass is thick, damp and knotty and the beat spirals and taunts like a lithe hand with castanets.

Serious could have gone completely differently. All the elements are here: the globetrotting high-caliber vocalists, the heavy petting beats, and the cosmopolitan grasp of grafts. For many reasons, these pieces never really come together well, resulting in a sorry diluted quilt of internationally-flavored boredom.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.