Sonidos Gold

As big years go, Grupo Fantasma has had one of the biggest: Austin’s eleven-piece combo played festivals across the country, appeared on national TV, and even struck up an alliance with Prince. Now comes a fourth CD, Sonidos Gold (Aire Sol/High Wire). Though the album scores appearances from the likes of saxophonist Maceo Parker and Fania All-Stars’ Larry Harlow, Grupo keeps its modest but effective foot-moving formula intact. Harlow is a particular coup; Fania’s genre-bending sixties and seventies excursions made an impression on Grupo, whose members now effortlessly roll cumbia, Afrobeat, salsa, and funk into a propulsive machine. (They straddle eras too, with modern dub, psychedelic flourishes, and DJ remixes.) Despite taut arrangements, Gold sounds wide open, almost live; it suits a band whose music seems born for the stage. And if that weren’t enough, don’t miss the superb sounds from new Grupo spin-offs: Homenaje (Freestyle), instrumental funk from the band’s subgroup Brownout, and The Alchemist Manifesto (ESL), guitarist Adrian Quesada’s freaky collaboration with Ocote Soul Sounds.

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