The Echocentrics and Ocote Soul Sounds

Sunshadows, and Taurus (Ubiquity)

Texas Platters

The Echocentrics

Sunshadows (Ubiquity)

Ocote Soul Sounds

Taurus (ESL Music)

The Echocentrics began with an obscure Peruvian bolero that caught the ear of Adrian Quesada a decade ago. Intoxicated by the searing soul-psych warble of "Esclavo y Amo" by Los Pasteles Verdes, the guitarist behind local Latin stalwarts Grupo Fantasma and Brownout began sketching songs in the same vein. The ballad – featuring Argentine vocalist Natalia Clavier – is a standout on the now fully realized Sunshadows. The cover art, depicting a vintage amp and speaker sitting on a dusty sun-scorched road in middle-of-nowhere Texas, perfectly captures the desert psychedelia of arid instrumentals "Don Alejo" and "Electric Travels." Brazilian singer Tita Lima, who has a bloodline to the legendary Os Mutantes, splashes tropicália on three tracks. A collaboration between Quesada and Antibalas founder Martín Perna, Ocote Soul Sounds is another side project, although with three albums since the last Antibalas release, it's morphing into Perna's primary creative outlet. Produced by Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation, Taurus is Ocote's most polished work but loses none of the Afro-Latin voodoo that has grounded the group since its 2004 debut. Ocote always grooved implicit protest music, yet it takes sharper aim on the rolling Afrobeat of "STTP (Speak Truth to Power)" and "Pan y Circo," an indictment of big-stakes sports. Guest shaman Chico Mann shakes the ancients on "En el Temblor," while Clavier, another Echocentrics thread, charms on a trio of numbers. Add Taurus and Sunshadows to the sensational psychotropic soundtracks cooked up when Perna and Quesada are unbound by their big bands.

(Both) ***.5

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