Rock meets world music with surprising success on Gachupin's eponymous debut. This kind of melting pot often yields horribly bastardized results, but the large ensemble pulls it off, thanks to a slew of authentic riffs, unforced arrangements, and a strong focus kept on the Groove with a capital "G." Brazilian rhythms, African horn lines, and funky basslines are only a few of the elements you will encounter within these 11 instrumentals, yet this diversity is subsumed to a well-gelled group sound. Guitarists Lynn Wright and Jon Petrow are pushing the Latin elements of their previous band Cordero into funkier territory, with the help of Coba's drummer Chris Michael, and Pere Ubu bassist Tony Maimone, whose heavy lines lend a certain avant-rock feel to this otherwise fusion-jazz-sounding record (the jazz element often provided by Brian Dewan's spirited organ playing). The group also relies on a big brass section that convincingly switches modes between samba leads and Afro-funk cues. Highlights include the opening "Irish Juju," a call to dance if there ever was one, the groove-heavy "Attiso," and "Marrakech," which -- despite its title -- has a strong Ethiopian feel (think Mahmoud Ahmed). Gachupin lacks a few strong melodies to make it truly memorable. That said, as an experiment in world fusion, it definitely succeeds.
by François Couture