Novalima - Afro
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Novalima
Afro
Quango Music Group (www.quango.com)

Up to now, no one's given Afro-Peruvian music the electronic treatment that so many other global styles have been either edified or trounced by. Perhaps the folkloric sounds championed by the likes of Susana Baca, Peru Negro and Eva Ayllon were regarded with a sacrosanct, leave-well-enough-alone attitude. Even so, four Lima-based producers calling themselves Novalima have taken the Afro-Peruvian style (characterized by acoustic guitars, percussion, call-and-response vocals and lyrics rooted in African/Spanish laments) and given it a modern turn. I'm pleased to say the results are quite engaging, an energetic mixture of authentic sounds and quirky techno expansion. It's only after a minute or so into the opening track "Chinchivi" that the contemporary buzz seeps into the sound and it's seldom overplayed through the rest of the album. Like Gotan Project, Charanga Cakewalk and Da Lata before them, Novalima has taken a signature Latin sound and dressed it up for a night on a 21st century dance floor. Dub-like elongating of emotionally sung passages, abrupt surfacing of electronic washes, African-rooted beats with additions of funky bass lines and unexpected jazz piano and trumpet all come into play, animating songs like the shadowy "Mandinga" and the increasingly punchy "Alcajazz." There are times when processed beats are given too much precedence over the cajons, congas and cowbells and the digital elements can come across messily. Still, the disc succeeds sharply in giving Afro-Peruvian music a new kick. - Tom Orr

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