Grupo Fantasma – Problemas | Album Review | Top of the World

Posted on February 4th, 2016 in Recent posts by .

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Words by Chris Moss

Grupo Fantasma - Problemas Cover

No problems here: bold and brassy Latino funk from Austin
★★★★

For their first studio album since 2010’s Grammy-winning El Existential, this Austin nine-piece have abandoned their DIY approach and contracted Steve Berlin (Los Lobos’ saxophonist) to produce. His is a more polished production, which also pushes the horns even more into the focus and gets these versatile musicians to push themselves and hop around the genres.

Problemas is an entertaining mix of funk, urban groove, big-band brass, rap and Latin pop-rock. If it’s chaotic and clamorous, that’s only an accurate reflection of the currents teeming around the US Latino music scene. ‘Esa Negra’ is raw and rocking, bolted to a mean beat; ‘Otoño’ is jazzed-up shanty-style cumbia; while ‘Descarga Pura y Dura’ (Letting it Go, Pure and Hard) lives up to its title, salsa-style. This is a band that have jammed with Prince, collaborated with Maceo Parker and the Wu-Tang Clan and been fawned over at major jazz festivals as well as their hometown’s SXSW indie jamboree. Problemas is 44 minutes of fizzing variety and edgy eclecticism.

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