By: Jake Krolick
That old cat fate sure deals funny hands. Point in reference: when the Antibalas' bus broke down in Austin, TX during a bio-fueled trip to Mexico it was fate delivering Martin Perna into the hands of Grupo Fantasma's Adrian Quesada. The impromptu sessions between Perna and Quesada resulted in inspiration for a new album, The Alchemist Manifesto (Eighteenth Street), and a new group, Ocote Soul Sounds. The Alchemist Manifesto contains the answers to life itself wrapped in a richly organic sound that seeps into your pores while you sweat raw life. This is the soundtrack that haunts your peyote filled visions in the middle of the Southwestern desert. This is also the music that answers your questions…
Within the Ocote Soul Sounds' blend of relaxed Latin grooves, you'll find both Perna and Quesada drawing from their Mexican roots while still embracing their modern environments. The Alchemist Manifesto is their way of lulling you out into the world of mystery as if you entered a Carlos Castaneda fueled dream. Even the album's cover art pulls from Mesoamerican mysticism with its artistic portrayal of alternate realities.
The sounds are hopped-up on a splendid bed of mushrooming percussion and hypnotic flute. Quesada lays out the head bop with a well executed take on Latin rhythms, hip-hop beats and some good old heartbeat of Mother Earth drumming. Flute may not be the first instrument one thinks of as funky, but it has earned its place along with any other lead instrument. Perna's flute takes on almost spiritual qualities as he weaves in and out of the songs, creating an ethereal dream-like flow. There is some spiritually funky woodwind work that flows through "El Pescador" like a pan flute on Lew Tabackin steroids. The song is a masterpiece of old and new, combining Yoruba chant with hip-hop drum work. Tracks like "Gunpowder" border on the sounds of a spaghetti western woven with Quesada's searing Santana style guitar work. "Contra El Sol" heightens the mood, adding a bit of urgency as it speeds off in a classic drum and bass take before depositing you into "Pelican," which once again links traditional sounds and flowing flute with tight percussion touches.
On The Alchemist Manifesto Perna and Quesada have successfully created a space linking the modern and folk world by mixing technology and ancestral sounds. The Ocote Soul Sounds are a higher power, making something that falls into that wonderful gray area of music that is undefined and uncontained by the limitations of what is loved in pop circles.
When you are ready to pull back the curtain and want to unravel the mysteries of the exotic, try ingesting some of the Ocote Soul Sounds. Let The Alchemist Manifesto act as your soul's guide while putting a sly little groove in your step.
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