Dance music fusions can be dodgy propositions. Too often, an artist will substitute a little knowledge (or a few presets) for a faithful study of what makes another form of music special. Da Lata, the Brazilian beat project formed by longtime DJs and producers Chris Franck and Patrick Forge, scored right off the bat with the 1998 single "Prá Manhã," plus an accompanying album (2000's Songs From the Tin). Their second proper full-length, Serious, expands on the promise of the first and proves that Da Lata are one of the few capable of an intriguing, long-lasting dance/world fusion. Already balancing the organic and the electronic in splendid fashion, Franck and Forge (plus master programmer/engineer Toni Economides) invited a few respected names for collaborations. The opener, "Serious," features vocals from broken beat veteran Bembe Segue and Palm's own Mamani Keïta over a brisk Afrobeat number that stretches out with great work from accordion and trombones. "Distracted Minds" is the showcase, a brilliant, haunting fusion of Africa and Brazil matching Senegalese master Baaba Maal with Nina Miranda from Arkestra One. "Firefly," practically the only track with a clear predecessor, takes on Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters-era "Watermelon Man," with Franck and Forge contributing whistles, ocarina, berimbau, pandeiro, shakers, and tres.
AllMusic Review by John Bush