Banda Maguey


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Technology doesn't make it impossible for a musician to be a purist, but it does make it much more difficult. The more advanced technology becomes, the more likely people are to be exposed to a variety of music, and be influenced by different styles. That's why hip-hop is influencing rai musicians in Algeria, and it's why Scotland, of all places, has a respectable salsa/Afro-Cuban band called Salsa Celtica. Technology and mass media also have something to do with the fact that Banda Maguey takes such an expansive, broad-minded approach to Mexican banda music on Metamorfosis, which is banda-oriented, but certainly not the work of banda purists. If you want to hear two very different approaches to banda, play Metamorfosis right after hearing Ezequiel Peña's superb Viva la Banda (one of the finest Mexican releases of 2003). Viva la Banda has a very traditional banda/corrido outlook, whereas Metamorfosis is all over the place in terms of influences -- and those influences range from dance/club grooves to tropical music (that is, Dominican bachata-merengue, Afro-Cuban salsa, and Colombian cumbia -- although Banda Maguey is hardly oblivious to the Mexican interpretation of cumbia). While this album's overall sound is more Mexican than anything else, there is no getting around the fact Banda Maguey brings a strong tropical influence to some of the up-tempo tracks (especially "El Pajarito" and "La Culpa"). Overall, Metamorfosis is a party album, although there are a few romantic Latin pop ballads as well (including the slightly R&B-ish "Te Necesito"). In the regional Mexican market, Banda Maguey aren't without their critics; some Mexican listeners feel that they can be overly gimmicky at times, and "El Marcianito" (for example) is definitely on the cutesy, precious side. Regardless, Banda Maguey is a lot of fun -- and while Metamorfosis falls short of perfect, it's a good-humored, likable, unpredictable disc that takes its share of chances.

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