The sweet, lightly funky South American groove in "Da Gama," the leadoff track of Cusco's ESSENTIAL CUSCO: THE JOURNEY lets us know what kind of journey we're headed for. Cusco, the German synthesizer duo of Michael Holm and Kristian Schultze, is not interested in the simmering polyrhythms of modern Latin dance music, but in the ancient sounds of Incan and Mayan civilizations, complete with wood flutes and hand percussion. Neither is Cusco interested in preserving music traditions. Holm and Schultze blend these old-world South American flavors with New Age synthesizers, dance beats, and a penchant for cinematic drama.
ESSENTIAL CUSCO collects some of the group's more memorable compositions, including the buoyant, flute-driven "Montezuma," the Native North American-tinged "Ghost Dance," the circular march of "Waters of Cesme," and the orchestral "Flying Condor." Part ethnomusicology experiment, part science-fiction soundtrack, ESSENTIAL CUSCO is a great place to sample the work of this intriguing, genre-blending group.