Grupo Fantasma

El Existential (Nat Geo Music)

Texas Platters

Grupo Fantasma

El Existential (Nat Geo Music)

Over the past decade, Grupo Fantasma's done for Latin music locally what George Clinton did for funk globally: established a standard of excellence with a relentless assembly line of grooves. Crowned with a Grammy nomination for 2008's Sonidos Gold, the 10-piece enterprise's highly anticipated follow-up and fourth LP overall intensifies that Mothership Connection, delving into the liquid psychedelia that's become a hallmark of Grupo's mostly instrumental offshoot Brownout. As such, El Existential is all in the details: the spaghetti Western guitar break in the Tex-Mex-textured "Montañozo," the woozy vocal treatment of the convulsive "El Consejo," and the heavy psych detonation halfway through the downbeat salsa of "Hijo." Aside from more traditional fare, "Sacatelo Bailando" and "25," the self-recorded and produced El Existential lacks the cohesion of the group's early work, focusing instead on furthering its genre alchemy, notably in "Cumbianchera" and shape-shifter "Telaraña," the latter featuring the Meat Puppets' Curt Kirkwood. "La Conozco" whirls a dancehall carnival of smoke and mirrors, a delirious haze of keys and washboard guitar peppered by Mark Gonzales' ragtime trombone break, while satyriasis seduction "Juan Tenorio" begets the Fania polish of guest pianist Larry Harlow. Soundtrack interlude "Reconciliar" takes a cinematic cue from producer/guitarist Adrian Quesada's Ocote Soul Sounds, and funky closer "Araña Cuña" conjures vodun incantation. Consider El Existential another chapter in Grupo Fantasma's new world order. (Grupo Fantasma blows out Antone's Friday, May 7, and Saturday, May 8.)

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