Words by Howard Male
Toledo’s back, this time with new friends
The pace is frenetic from the off, but there’s something more in the mix than just the usual racing rhythm track and ferocious brass one associates with the Balkan brass sound. Rising from the ashes of great live favourite Alejandro Toledo and the Magic Tombolinos, the sound of Argentinian saxophonist Toledo’s new band has muscularity, a contemporary swagger and a sophistication to the arrangements that so many who go down the fusion route lack.
It certainly helps that young London-based South American poet and rapper Fedzella is on board for a couple of tracks adding sass and zest. Then there’s ‘La Vida’, which brings to mind the playful off-kilter dance numbers of one of my favourite fusion bands of the past decade, Mexican Institute of Sound. The songwriting is of a higher standard now too. ‘Beautiful Patterns’ strongly evokes memories of the sublime American outfit DeVotchKa. But I digress. All in all, Toledo’s unselfconscious expansion of his aesthetic – and, in places, a more stripped-back hip-hop vibe – have made this album one of the best fusion releases that I have heard in a while.