LATIN CONCRETE: A MODERN LATIN RHYTHM SUITE-MIXED AND COMPILED BY CHRIS READ.

LATIN CONCRETE: A MODERN LATIN RHYTHM SUITE-MIXED AND COMPILED BY CHRIS READ.

So far this year, BBE Music have continued their policy of releasing an eclectic selection of quality music, starting with Al Kent’s The Best of DIsco Demands, a five disc box set crammed full of disco delights. This was followed by the classic soul of Sandy Barber’s The Best Is Yet Come, and then Johnny D Presents Disco Jamms Volume 1, a refreshingly eclectic collection of music ranging from Philly Soul, house and Euro Disco, to soul, R&B and disco. Next came Boddhi Satva’s beautiful and powerful Invocation, a fusion of authentic African music, Ragga and hip hop that also encompasses Nu Soul, jazz and house music. The next addition to BBE’s back catalogue will be a a retrospective compilation of jazz, soul and funk entitled The Best of Perception and Today Records Compiled By DJ Spinna and BBE Soundsystem. However, very different will be Chris Read’s forthcoming compilation Latin Concrete: A Modern Latin Rhythm Suite-Mixed and Compiled By Chris Read. This is a two disc set, one mixed and the other unmixed, which includes seventeen slices of infectious Latin music, laden with rhythms and beats aplenty. Before I tell you about the music on Latin Concrete: A Modern Latin Rhythm Suite-Mixed and Compiled By Chris Read, I’ll tell you how Chris’ compilation differs from other BBE Music releases.

Latin Concrete: A Modern Latin Rhythm Suite-Mixed and Compiled By Chris Read, which will be released on 30 April 2012, is quite different from the other albums and compilations released by BBE Music this year and previously. Whilst other BBE releases concentrate on crate digging to discover hidden gems, rarities and long forgotten classics, BBE have decided to turn the spotlight on a musical scene that’s quietly, been evolving over the past ten years. This is the Latin music scene, which Chris Read approaches from a DJ’s and music lover’s perspective. However, Chris didn’t grow up in an environment where he was surrounded by Latin music. Instead, he discovered it through the music he was listening to. Much of this was what he refers to as the “sample based music” from the late eighties and early nineties, much of which was hip hop and house music. Previously, many DJs and producers have been influenced by, and sampled Latin music. Like many people, Chris traced the sources of this music, and in doing so, discovered the disparate delights of Latin music. It’s this music that features on the two discs of Latin Concrete: A Modern Latin Rhythm Suite-Mixed and Compiled By Chris Read. On the mixed disc, Chris seamlessly mixes his may through the seventeen tracks on the album, demonstrating not just his mixing skills, but also his taste in music. Quite simply, this is a great DJ mix, percussive heavy, with beats and rhythms aplenty. However, of the seventeen tracks on Latin Concrete: A Modern Latin Rhythm Suite-Mixed and Compiled By Chris Read, what are the highlights of the compilation? That’s what I’ll now tell you.

My first choice from Latin Concrete: A Modern Latin Rhythm Suite-Mixed and Compiled By Chris Read is the track that opens the compilation Oddisee’s Viva Brasil, taken from Oddisee’s 2011 album Odd Seasons, released on Mello Music. Oddisee is Washington born producer and MC, now based in Brooklyn, New York, whose part of the Low Budget crew. Viva Brasil is an irresistible slice of musical sunshine, with a real feel-good vibe. With its combination of heavy percussion, pounding beats and guitars, stabs a Hammond organ enters, adding an atmospheric sound to this shuffling mid-tempo track. For four minutes the rhythms, beats and percussion signal the arrival of summer, with its gorgeous lilting sound. Resistance is impossible, all you can do is surrender to this tracks irresistible charms.

Quantic & Nickodemus’ Mi Swing Es Tropical features Tempo & The Candela All-Stars, and was released as a single in 2007, on the US label Wonderwheel Recordings. This is one of these hidden gems that make you thankful that people like Chris Read dig deeper, to unearth such treasures. It’s another mid-tempo track, fusing funk, Latin and soul. Opening with just the vocal, rhythm section and percussion, the track quickly unfolds to reveal its secrets. As if on the signal of the pounding drums, the track reveals some glorious meandering rhythms, a proliferation of percussion and crispy beats. They combine with punchy, blazing horns and quick, joyful vocals. It’s almost impossible not to be swept away by this track, one that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face and make you feel at peace with the world.

When I heard The Juju Orchestra’s What Is Hip? featuring Terry Callier and Carolyn Leonhard this was a welcome addition, as I’m a huge admirer of both The Juju Orchestra and Terry Callier’s music. This track is from The Juju Orchestra’s 2007 album Bossa Nova Is Not A Crime. The tempo is quick, with a piano opening the track, before percussion and Terry’s punchy vocal enters. By now the rhythms and heavy and the percussion plentiful, as Terry’s vocal drifts in and out of the track. With pounding drums and percussion key to the arrangement, Terry’s vocal gives way to frantic handclaps and stabs of organ. Later, whoops and hollers aplenty join the arrangement, before the organ, percussion and pounding drums augment Terry’s vocal, as the track heads to a close. For anyone whose neither heard the music on The Juju Orchestra nor Terry Callier, then you must hear this track to discover just what you’ve been missing, then explore both artists back catalogue.

Beatfanatic, who is Ture Sjoberg, a Swedish producer has two tracks on Latin Concrete: A Modern Latin Rhythm Suite-Mixed and Compiled By Chris Read. These are Cookin’ and Jogando Capoeira. Both are from his 2003 single released on Raw Fusion Recordings and were on his 2004 album Adventures In The World of No-Fi Beats. Cookin’ sees a glorious combination of powerful, jazzy drums accompanied by punchy and persistent blazing horns while the track is percussive heavy. A vocal drifts in and out of the track, as the track takes on an infectious, driving style. Stabs of horns are augmented by crisp drums and frenzied percussion, as the track fuses an infectious combination of funk, jazz and Latin music. Jogando Capoeira is a quicker track, but shares many of the same qualities with Cookin.’ Although the tempo is quicker, 114 beats per minute, there’s the same irresistible combination of percussion, Latin rhythms and driving beats. Add to that, a piano that helps drives the track along, and an emotive female vocal, and you’ve the recipe for another great track from Beatfanatic.

Like Beatfanatic, compiler Chris Read has two tracks on Latin Concrete: A Modern Latin Rhythm Suite-Mixed and Compiled By Chris Read. Mind you, when you’re the compiler, and have two tracks as good as this, they deserve to be icluded. These are Ritmos Colombianos and Disco Cumbia, from Chris’ 2011 single on Breakin’ Bread Records, which he arranged and produced. As Ritmos Colombianos opens it’s a combination of whistles, a heavy, pounding rhythm section, percussion and vocals that reveal themselves. Then a horns soars, while drums and bass pound, drive the track along. Add to this percussion, frantic horns, occasional blasts of whistles and the vocal, and a track that combines jazz, funk and Latin music reveals its charms. Of the two tracks, Disco Cumbia is my favorite. It sounds like a carnival atmosphere is gradually unfolding as you listen. For four minutes, the drums pound, so much so, that you fear for the skins, before a combination of percussion, whistles and blazing horns accompany the vocal. The rhythms are glorious, the percussion plentiful, while the horns combine power and passion, resulting in a truly authentic and glorious Latin sounding track. 

Color Climax are Paul Toller and Steve Ashby, two Coventry based producers, whose track Batidas Latinas was one of the tracks on their 2007 album Plug It In on Breakin’ Bread Records. When the track opens with its combination of keyboards, percussion and rhythm section, it has a slightly darker sound. However, when the vocals enter, they provide a contrast, as the track fuses jazz, funk and Latin. The rhythms and strong, the beats punchy and pounding, before a drum solo takes the track in a jazzy direction. Then, the addition of keyboards add a touch of funk, before wah-wah guitars add to the funkiness. By now the tempo is quick, the dark sound has gone, replaced by an arrangement that’s powerful, joyous and fabulously funky. Here, Latin music meets funk, with a sprinkling a jazz thrown in for good measure, as the highlight of Latin Concrete: A Modern Latin Rhythm Suite-Mixed and Compiled By Chris Read reveals its brilliance.

The last track I want to mention is the track that closes Latin Concrete: A Modern Latin Rhythm Suite-Mixed and Compiled By Chris Read, Black Grass’ Lucha Contra De La Injusticia. This is a track from Black Grass’ 2006 album A Hundred Days In One, released on Catskills Records. When the track opens there’s a real Latin sound and feel, before a guitar, bass and percussion combine. From there punchy beats enter, joined by keyboards and the track begins to reveal its beauty and subtlety. While drums drive the track along, a percussive laden arrangement is augmented by keyboards, whistles and vocals. Later, squelchy, old school synths add a contrasting sound, before quickly, exiting stage left. They’re replaced by guitars, keyboards, percussion and pounding beats, before subtle horns are the latest addition to the arrangement. The result is a track that’s a fusion of Nu-Jazz, soul and Latin music, that results in another of the album’s highlights.

Having spent a considerable time listening to Latin Concrete: A Modern Latin Rhythm Suite-Mixed and Compiled By Chris Read, I can honestly say that this is a refreshingly, eclectic collection Latin music. Although many people won’t have heard of some of the artists that feature on the compilation, their music deserves a much wider audience. This is the case with Beatfanatic, Black Grass, Color Climax, The Juju Orchestra, Oddisee and Quantic and Nickodemus. Each of these artists contribute some great music to Latin Concrete: A Modern Latin Rhythm Suite-Mixed and Compiled By Chris Read, music which is infectiously catchy, percussive heavy and laden with glorious rhythms and beats. Hopefully, after hearing this music, people will decide to explore the artists music further. As someone whose familiar with a number of these artists, I can recommend doing so. Truly, there is some amazing music awaiting your discovery. Personally, BBE Music deserve the utmost credit for giving Chris Read the opportunity to introduce the wider public to the music he’s so passionate about. In many ways, this is brave move, given that this isn’t one of the currently fashionable genres of music. Instead, it’s got a small and loyal fan-base, made up of passionate people, who love Latin music. Maybe after hearing the majestic and infectious music on Latin Concrete: A Modern Latin Rhythm Suite-Mixed and Compiled By Chris Read, many more people will seek out this music, music which is deserving of a much wider audience. Standout Tracks: Oddisee Viva Brasil, Beatfanatic Cookin,’ Color Climax Batidas Latinas and Black Grass’ Lucha Contra De La Injusticia.

LATIN CONCRETE: A MODERN LATIN RHYTHM SUITE-MIXED AND COMPILED BY CHRIS READ.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Derek..thanks for the preview of this…looking forward to getting my hands on it as soon as its released… LM

    • Hi there,

      I’m glad you liked the review, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy Latin Concrete when it’s released. There are some great tracks on the album. I’ve been listening to some of the music by the artists that feature on the compilation. One album I discovered was by Black Grass, One Hundred Days In One, which I picked up for pennies on Amazon. It’s another good album, which I’d recommend. Glad you enjoyed the review, keep reading the blog, there’s many more great things to come.

      Best Wishes,
      Derek.

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