Various Artists

Salsa Moderna: A Taste of New Wave Latin Flavours

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The new-style salsa first began to attract widespread notice during the late '80s and is also known as salsa romantica, salsa sensual, and salsa erotica. While it obviously shares certain rhythmic, melodic, and compositional factors with its more intensely Cuban-flavored forebears, it is more obviously about dancing and particularly about a flagrantly bawdy type of Latin dirty dancing that would even make the most unflappable lambada veteran gulp in disbelief. The lyrics are provocative at best and downright lewd at worst. Melody rules all, sometimes to the point of extinguishing any complexity whatsoever, but there are also some startlingly fresh rhythm breaks and key changes that would never have been permitted in former times. There is no doubt that these modern permutations have absorbed some of the rampant sexism commonplace in much of latter-day hip-hop culture. Some critics even feel that the whole thing evolved specifically so men could grope women on the dancefloor. Be that as it may, more elevated examples of the style exhibit sufficient chops to merit at least a listen, and the best can even survive comparison with classic tracks. The main thing to keep in mind is that this is a groove in constant flux, and like everything that came before, it too will ultimately become grist for another generation's mill. As a time capsule of what got so many young Puerto Rican, Colombian, and Venezuelan dancers moving, this is a pleasant and enlightening set. Willie Rosario, Mulenze, Tito Allen, and a group called Puerto Rican Power acquit themselves especially well.

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