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Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban jazz and dance music are pretty familiar to Northern ears at this point -- but Afro-Peruvian? What might that sound like? If you're imagining polyrhythms crossed with pan pipes, think again: this is urban Peruvian music, and to be honest, it often sounds kind of like a cross between Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music, when it isn't just sounding more or less like one or the other. What makes Novalima's sound unique isn't so much its cultural mix as its production style: instead of making modern electronic dance music with a Latin flavor, this quartet takes traditional Peruvian instruments and uses them to make Latin music spiced with electronic elements, and the result is both more musically compelling and more funky than you might expect. They bring in a host of guest artists, including several female singers who grace some of the album's finest songs: the house-inflected "Machete" is one of the album's highlights, as is the eerie, dubbed-up and atypically electro-flavored "Mandinga." "Cardo" makes funk out of a six/four rhythm (which one might have thought to be impossible), and "Candela" pays tribute to Cuba with its irresistible rhythmic structure. Only "Alcajazz," which starts out tedious and stays that way even when an amped-up club beat kicks in partway through, fails to impress. Highly recommended overall.

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