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Published: 2003/09/28
by Mike Greenhaus

Nueva Musica – The Latin Project

Electric Monkey Records 1003-2

Don't let its initial instrumentation confuse you: the Latin Projects
Nueva Musica is completely devoted to dance music. An uptempo mix of
Latin melodies, drum-n-bass beats, and subtle traces of trance, Nueva
Musica is party music for people who frequent both Manhattan hippie-
bars and Miami clubs, a healthy marriage of trance-fusion and the Miami
Sound Machine. So it's surprising that Nueva Musica opens with twelve
seconds of finger picked acoustic guitars.

Perhaps to highlight the album's gentle underbelly, or maybe to offer
contrast its produced ecstasy, the Latin Project uses 12 seconds of acoustic
guitar to ignite a ten track dance party. Matt Cooper and Jez Colin form the
core of the Latin Project. Layering an impressive amount of dance sounds
into ten short tracks, the Latin Project evokes the feeling of one
continuous groove, broken into several distinct movements. Fun and
frequently danceable, Nueva Musica is an enjoyable hybrid of two types of
party music, yet it's also somewhat of a repetitive listen.

With quick keyboard romps and Latin phrases sparked throughout, Nueva Musica
includes live-sounding samples that help texture the disc, creating an
impressive musical motif. Latin swing, ill beats, and solid basslines drive
the album and create a danceable pallet, on which both studio sounds and
live instrumentation are placed. Like the best dance music it has repetitive
hooks and catchy chords. Yet, like the worst dance music, it gets caught in
overly repetitive patterns and trendy production. The album's more human
touches (bongos and horns give natural life to "Lei Lo Lai" and "Musica De
Amor" and electric pianos breeze through "Brazilian Love Affair") align the
disc with the Sound Tribe Sector 9s of the world. Meanwhile, spoken choruses
and a wall of studio sound also make the album a true dance record.
Unfortunately, though, the album doesn't have the pounding heart of the best
Latin dance music or the improvisational springboard of a live trance band.
At times, it falls the risk of being the bastard child of electronic music.

But, though at times directionless, Nueva Musica is still a solid
record. One of Nueva Musica's assets is its conceptual unity, tying together
several strands of electronic dance music. While the album may sound like a
single, interconnected unit upon initial listen, more careful dissection
reveals a more eclectic array of styles. "Musica De Amor" incorporates
elements of boogie-woogie, while "Brazilian Love Affair" has a more
pronounced funk bassline. "Windows" uses synthesizer sounds to turn '80s
pop music on its head, while jungle beats run wild throughout. "Sohando"
plays around with some interesting industrial beats and displays a
smorgasbord of percussion sounds. MP>

Like many trance influenced jambands, the Latin Project relies heavily on
its groove. The quickness of each track take chances like the most
adventurous jamband, while the album's production team reigns in any
unnecessarily meandering sounds. That said, ten tracks hovering around the
five-minute mark is a little stifling. "Clouds," the album's lengthiest
track, is the most roomy number and is allowed to explore a greater degree.
But the Latin Project is admittedly a studio-based unit, which redefines the
idea of "human techno." Instead of using live instruments to recreate studio
sounds, the group uses organic sounds as added spice, giving its Latin music
a new, modern, flavor.

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