Ocote Soul Sounds

Coconut Rock

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AllMusic Review by

This project grew out of a chance encounter between multi-instrumentalists Martin Perna (of New York Afro-beat revivalists Antibalas) and Adrian Quesada (of Austin-based Grupo Fantasma). After meeting on the road when Perna's biodiesel station wagon broke down, the two began writing songs together and eventually put together a seven-piece band. The result is both impressive and unique: a band with clear roots in the sounds of the cumbia and the descarga, but with a twisted funkiness all its own, and a sort of pan-Caribbean catholicity. The tracks are mostly instrumental, but when lyrics are involved they tend to be pretty radical: "Vampires" was written in dismay at the gentrification that overtook Perna's neighborhood in Brooklyn following the September 11 terrorist attacks, and even the instrumental "Revolt of the Cockroach People" has reference to the poetry of political writer Oscar Zeta Acosta. Strong threads of reggae are woven through tracks like "Tu Fin, Mi Comienzo" and "Coconut Rock," while "Return of the Freak" is both funky in a James Brown style and (except for a rather abrasive guitar solo) eerily pretty. The jazz flute on "Cara de Yo No Fui" is another highlight. There are moments when things seem to bog down and the playing becomes a bit discursive and unfocused, but for the most part, the grooves are compelling and the arrangements brilliant.

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