The Buena Vibra Sound System
Douglas Heselgrave's #11 album for 2008
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2008, Volume 15, #8
Written by Douglas Heselgrave
Thu August 28, 2008, 06:30 AM CDT
After what has been the strangest winter on record, summer finally has arrived in Vancouver. With the late departure of snow, cold, and rain, a little seasonal rescue certainly was in order. In this regard, Sidestepper’s The Buena Vibra Sound System provides the perfect balm to the frayed expectations that have resulted from the heat’s delayed arrival.
The Buena Vibra Sound System is the product of a vacation that British DJ Richard Blair took to Colombia in order to visit with musician Toto La Momposina. While there, Blair quickly became infatuated with the Afro-Colombian music scene. While his stay lengthened, he began to record with local artists, such as Ivan Benavides, under the name Sidestepper.
As has been the case with many indigenous cultures the world over, Colombians with African backgrounds have had a difficult time obtaining exposure for their songs. Most Colombian pop music is produced by Caucasian musicians of European origin, so not surprisingly the kind of music that Blair discovered in Bogota’s African clubs was unlike anything he had heard previously. Working with Benavides, Blair began producing original music for Sidestepper to record.
The Buena Vibra Sound System is the result of Blair’s pursuits, and it is quite simply the best dance album of the year, so far. With its melange of Colombian, Jamaican, and Nigerian styles, the intoxicating grooves on The Buena Vibra Sound System are quite unique. Without exception, the blending of Nigerian rhythms, Latin-influenced strings, and reggae beats has yielded an exhilarating collection of songs, all of which are destined to become classics. On Que Sera, in particular, an age-old standard is reworked into an amazing, dub-inflected bump-and-grind number that is going to raise the birthrate in every place that it’s heard. Likewise, San Juan contains what is possibly the sexiest bass line that ever has been committed to tape.
Sidestepper’s The Buena Vibra Sound System might not provide the answers to all of the world’s problems. Nevertheless, it certainly will take away their sting and make everyone feel better about whatever it is that is troubling them. The Buena Vibra Sound System is optimistic, uplifting, and erotic. Brilliantly played and passionately sung, it is the album of the summer, and it is utterly indispensable.
Of Further Interest...
The Buena Vibra Sound System is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box