Review: Grupo Fantasma, Sonidos Gold
35 seconds in and you’ll know whether or not you’re going to like Sonidos Gold. “El Sabio Soy Yo”, the opening track starts with four bars of a huge and arresting funk drum vamp. At 10 seconds a powerful soul-review horn section is laid over the drums for 8 bars. Grupo Fantasma then drives the whole thing to a rollicking cumbia at the 12 bar point. It kills. We were hooting, hollering and dancing the very first time we heard it and we haven’t stopped months later.
Grupo Fantasma is an Austin-based Latin big band that mixes funk, soul, cumbia, salsa, rumba and umpteen other latin rhythms in a high energy stew that never quits throughout Sonidos Gold. They are also something of an oddity in the music business as they’ve built their reputation almost solely on word of mouth and incendiary live shows. After selling thousands of CDs out of the back of their van during live gigs they were offered major label support. They turned it down in order to retain full creative control of their music and how it’s packaged.
Based on Sonidos Gold, it sounds like they made the right decision. The album has been in constant rotation in our house for months; we just can’t seem to get it out of the CD player. Typically an album is reviewed here after it drops out of the mix and finds it’s way to the storage rack. Sonidos Gold is the exception to that rule. I expect we’ll be listening to this one until another one of Grupo Fantasma’s albums comes into the house. If you would like an introduction to Latin rhythms, Sonidos Gold would be a great choice as it combines these rhythms with what may be the more familiar soul and funk. If you are a fan of powerful big band Latin music Sonidos Gold is highly recommended. Good times.
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