The Buena Vibra Sound System

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The term "sound system" derives from the open-air dances that began in 1950s Jamaica and remain popular today, and it usually suggests music with some relationship to reggae. So when the first track of Sidestepper's album sounds more like something from Buena Vista Social Club than a Kingston dancehall, the effect is both startling and intriguing. And things get even more intriguing when the next track, titled "Mas Papaya," turns out to be straight-up dancehall reggae with backing vocals sung in Spanish. Other tracks don't fit into any clear genre designation: "Que Sera" is sung in Spanish, but is built on a rhythmic foundation that is as compellingly danceable as it is unique, and "San Juan" combines a gloriously sweet melody with a stutter-step electro beat and Latin percussion to brilliant effect. The man behind all this willfully strange eclecticism is British DJ Richard Blair, who used his status as an outsider to unite musicians from the usually antagonistic costeƱo and Bogota populations and create a style of music that has never before been heard in Colombia or anywhere else. The result is a complete triumph and an equal joy for listening or dancing. Highly recommended.

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