King Changó

The Return of El Santo

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Just when it seemed that ska was in danger of becoming a dot on the horizon, King Chango comes roaring back. Hardcore ska is only part of what this hot New York Latin band is about, however. Dub, trip-hop, punk, and drum'n'bass are all slammed together with reckless abandon. The resulting sound is a relentless assault on the senses that leaves the listener exhausted and ultimately satisfied. It's been four years since the band's self-titled debut, and they've spent the time exploring the edges of the gutsy, eclectic sound that they laid down on that one. Here they experiment more with electronic manipulation of sounds, giving the whole a trippier, more ambient, but no less muscular edge. The crisp, powerful percussion and wailing horns are still there, as are the precise, rapid-fire vocals. The joyous "Finalmente" kicks things off with a solid groove laid down by percussion, scratching, and charango. The charango also drives the tropical craziness of "Brujeria," a number that draws on Venezuelan roots. "What Politicians Say" is a rabble-rousing, reggae-tinged political rant. They do manage to mellow things out a bit with "Sin Ti," a ballad shored up with smooth horns and cheesy organ. But even on this one, there is a brief growling dub interlude. "Step Me Down" is an industrial tour de force, with screaming horns, factory-sounding clanks, and electronic beeps and swoops. The Return of El Santo is a strong sophomore release, and is worth the long wait.

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