Grupo Fantasma – El Existential

January 01, 1970

(Nat
Geo Music)

 

www.natgeomusic.net

 

Austin’s Latin funk orchestra
Grupo Fantasma’s fourth CD El Existential does nothing to dissuade the suspicion
that they are arguably the best thing currently going on in modern funk, the
Dap-Kings/Budos Band/Daptone Records axis of acts notwithstanding. As good as
2008’s Grammy nominated Sonidos Gold was (which was truly great), El
Existential
is even better, and Grupo Fantasma are pretty much sitting at
the top of the mountain right now. Can they get even better? Stayed tuned and
find out…

 

El
Existential
showcases the maturity and ease that comes from a band
that has now spent ten years recording and touring together. Numbering ten
players, Grupo Fantasma have always had to play together and share
musical space in way that smaller combos don’t have to even consider. But these
guys are beyond tight; they are in a state of elevated intuition, a groupthink
that is positively sublime. I kid you not: Grupo Fantasma really are that good.

 

Their
seamless mélange of Latin, Anglo and Afro grooves is a polyglot dream vacation.
Although they sing in Spanish and most of their grooves are clearly rooted in
one Latin form or another (cumbias, boleros, salsa, Tex Mex, etc.) Grupo
Fantasma also throw in massive guitar breaks (hear “Hijo” and “Telarana”),
movie theme riffs (“Montanozo”) psychedelic touches and whatever suits them
into the mix and stir until it all blends.  It seems almost churlish to
pick out standout tracks when there’s not a moment on the record that’s less
thrilling, but “Realizando,” “El Consejo,” “Hijo,” “Montanozo,” “Reconciliar”
and “Cumbianchera” are  particularly enthralling. Guitar player and producer
Adrian Quesada is the prime mover in the band, and his rich, sexy production
works as a de facto eleventh member
of the group, fully maximizing their sound and their globalist ambitions. But
the band is as much a group effort as you’ll find anywhere, with seven out
of ten members sharing song-writing credits, and everyone swinging both
individually and collectively.

 

 Already
sporting two spin-offs, the hard edged funk ensemble Brownout and the more
chill Ocote Soul Sounds, Grupo Fantasma seem built for endurance. And yes,
that’s Curt Kirkwood from Meat Puppet’s shredding on “Telarana.” Besides, any
band cool enough to be asked to work as Prince’s back-up combo on a series of
high profile gigs in pretty much has it all going on. Hey, you don’t have to
believe me: just ask Prince.

 

Standout Tracks: “Realizando,” “Hijo,”
“Montanozo,” Reconciliar,” “Cumbianchera” CARL HANNI

 

 

Leave a Reply