Gondwana

Together

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The members of Gondwana grew up in Pincoya, the poorest ghetto of Santiago, Chile. They eventually converted to Rastafarianism and began a career in reggae music; this, their debut album, was released in Chile by BMG Latin in 1997, and is now being issued in the U.S. for the first time by RAS. Some reggae fans will object to the high-gloss surface of this very tightly-produced album, but Dr. Dread (the head of RAS Records, who traveled to Santiago to produce Together) deserves praise for keeping the bass sound big and heavy and for not trying to get the band to sound Jamaican. The melodies and horn arrangements are definitely influenced by South American music, and the band frequently sings in Spanish. "Chainga Langa" is clearly a product of a culture not normally associated with reggae music, and yet it works beautifully as a reggae song. A few others (like the treacly "Smile Souling") work less well, but overall this is quite an impressive debut. (Phat Cherimoya Dub is a simultaneously-released dub version of Together.)

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