Chico Mann

Analog Drift

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A synth-heavy affair from beginning to end, Analog Drift recalls a great deal the world of 1980s electro-dance music. While early press releases spoke of Chico Mann's involvement with modern-day Afro-beat conglomerate Antibalas, the album owes as much to early Prince as it does to Fela Kuti. Nowhere is that more apparent than the album opener, "Harmonía," whose main riff is reminiscent of Sheila E.'s "The Glamorous Life," penned by none other than Prince Rogers Nelson. When it does get into Afro-beat mode, it is a highly electronic version of it. On "Guárdalo," a bouncy rhythm leads the way for an equally bouncy bassline before a West African guitar riff finally sounds like the Afro-beat connection the album was advertised as. In a similar fashion, Mann provides a New York club scene-like backdrop to Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime." With a drum intro that sounds like it could have come from a lost Strafe beat, the vocals, which are either processed through echo effects or multi-tracked, give way to a party atmosphere that complements the peppy track. It's an album that may not appeal to all fans of pop music, but in trying to marry the worlds of pop with electro while being conscious to employ African music ideas along the way, the album mostly succeeds. However, for an album that tries to cover so much territory, it mostly seems to be stuck in the same gear.

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