John Beltran

Sun Gypsy

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Very nearly the last thing the electronica world needs is yet another producer being lured down to Rio to pursue a fusion of dance and Brazilian forms, especially when that producer has excelled at a sound diametrically opposed to it. Author of several of the most exquisitely chilled techno productions of the mid-'90s (while recording for Apollo, Peacefrog, and Transmat), John Beltran sought sunnier climes to record Sun Gypsy, his first album for the jazz fusionaries at Ubiquity. It starts out more Brazilian than electronic -- barely a fusion at all -- but by the third track, Beltran's moving into crossover territory, with nimble basslines and precise, delicate guitar work, multi-gendered vocal choruses, and plenty of furious percussion sprinkled among his samba breakbeats. Still, the sound is closer to purists like the early United Future Organization than more recent beat-heavy Brazilian admirers like Faze Action. Beltran hasn't lost any of his skills as a producer; Sun Gypsy is filled with clever, kinetic productions that sound, to an untrained ear, as though they could've been recorded in the shadows of Corcovado. Fans of his earlier work, though, will be disappointed to hear this sound-alike fusion, and much more so than those interested in Brazilian music will be able to get excited about it.

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