Carnivale Electricos

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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek

For over 18 years, Galactic has been a restless, continually innovative ensemble that has sought to express every aspect of the cultural experience of New Orleans through music. Carnivale Electricos is a celebration of Mardis Gras Day (aka Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday). The quintet and friends celebrate the varieties of that experience throughout southern Louisiana and the American south, and also throughout the Southern hemisphere with its brand of parade music. In typical fashion, Carnivale Electricos is a crunchy, rowdy recording with some beautiful twists and turns by its guest performers. The band is augmented by a four-piece horn section led by Corey Henry (aka Boe Money) and percussionist Mike Dillon. Also typically, there are numerous guests on the set. Opener "Ha Di Ka" is opened by the war chant and roiling drums of Big Chief Juan Pardo and the Golden Comanches Mardis Gras Indians. The Big Chief knows how to get his funk on. Zydeco legend Clifton Chenier gets sampled on "Voyage Ton Flag" (to mark the Cajun celebration of the big day) with lead vocals by the Mamou Playboys' frontman Steve Riley, though this nasty creeper reflects Galactic as much as it does Cajun zydeco. The Revivalists' David Shaw and Maggie Koerner take NOLA brand blues-rock to the margin on "Hey Na Na," infusing it with gritty funk. The unmistakable Crescent City soul groove is represented by Cyril and Ivan Neville on "Out in the Street" with a killer horn presentation. "Karate" highlights one of the most important parts of Mardis Gras Day -- marching bands. The 140-piece Kipp Renaissance High School Marching Band joins Galactic on this strutter. Mannie Fresh and Mystikal offer the hip-hop take on Mardi Gras with the blistering, celebratory aggression of "Move Fast." Some of the most interesting cuts on this set, however, are those that employ various forms of Brazilian music (it's the biggest Carnivale day in the world because it's celebrated nationwide). There's the slamming, futurist forro of Carlinhos Brown's "Magalehna" by Casa Samba, with NOLA's unmistakable second-line funk laid in the backbeat. "Côco da Galinha" is a collaboration between postmodern samba poet Moyseis Marques and Galactic that retains the spirit of samba-driven MPB, but weds it to cracking breaks and NOLA-style R&B horns. "Guero Bounce" is even wilder. Blues, Baile funk, and the Crescent City's trademark bounce come together gumbo style. Local legend Al "Carnival Time" Johnson redoes his celebrated 1960 hit, updated for the Galactic generation. Carnivale Electricos is a further extension of the musical ambition, sophistication, and vision the band employed on 2010's brilliant Ya-Ka-May, but it's an even rowdier global celebration -- in full parade style -- of one very special day on the calendar.

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