3am (In Beats We Trust)

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After escaping from the globalizing realm of Peter Gabriel's Real World studio via a three-year exploration of Colombia and subsequent fusion of the country's exotic salsa music with U.K. drum'n'bass on his debut album, More Grip, Richard Blair steps away from the dancefloor and returns to what at first appears to be traditional Colombian music. But Blair still carries with him quite a few lessons learned in the dance community. 3am: In Beats We Trust might star an eight-person Colombian band, but it is Blair's post-production mastery that adds a modern flavor to the traditional salsa music composed by bandleader Ivan Benavides. Each track, regardless of tempo or tone, carries Blair's hearty yet unobtrusive sub-bass as well as a variety of electronic percussion that supports yet never overpowers the acoustic drums in the foreground. The combined effect comes somewhat close to Jamaican dub in many places, although the elaborate vocals and classic Latin rhythms are far more intricate and complex. The addition of U.K. jungle MC Rubi Dan on "In the Beats We Trust" and "Walking" (the only two songs sung in English) completes the journey that goes from the original Latin premise of Sidestepper's music to the modern electronic realm via Rasta-saturated drum'n'bass. Sidestepper's music truly deserves to be called "fusion," as opposed to the typical "combination" found on most contemporary attempts at indigenous music.

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