Caribe Atómico

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Any doubts that Aterciopelados were fundamentally a vehicle for the songs of Héctor Buitrago and Andrea Echeverri disappear on Caribe Atómico. Everything is pared down to bare bones here -- the band to the songwriting duo, the full-group sound down to minimalist song melodies and programmed backbeats, and traces of the old rock flavor surface only as a change of pace amidst the prevailing dance world/electronica. Producer Andres Levin is the key third party, with occasional guest cameos from New York underground scenesters Arto Lindsay and Marc Ribot and some Latin music mainstays. Echeverri's voice is really the whole show, floating over and through introspective, dream-like sketches matched by arrangements that are all atmosphere and textures; a lesser singer couldn't pull it off, but she proves to be up to the challenge. The title track is a forceful, cautionary protest of Caribbean pollution, but none of the songs jump up and really rock. "Doctora Corazon" has one of those ghostly house keyboard hooks and a chorus that most closely recalls the old group until it closes with a violin soloing over a Latin rhythm. "El Desinflar de Tu Cariño" gets into a Latin groove, "Miénteme" melds sound effects with Latin horns, and Vinicius Cantuaria guests on "Mañana," a samba that fits the tone of Echeverri's voice perfectly. Echeverri and Buitrago jumped off the deep end on Caribe Atómico in an obvious attempt to explore new musical currents. Fans of Aterciopelados' first two CDs may wish it wasn't such a radical break from the group's rocking past, but it's an experiment that largely works.

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