Rupa and the April Fishes: Este Mundo (Cumbancha)

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Rupa and the April Fishes: La Estrella Caida
Rupa and the April Fishes: Este Mundo (Cumbancha)

The implosion of Latin American party music, gypsy-swing, klezmer jazz and loping reggae is familiar enough in this country: from Kantuta, the Nairobi Trio and the Jews Brothers Band to the Mamaku Project and the somewhat questionable Benka Boradovsky Bordello Band we in New Zealand have been seduced, educated, charmed and dragged onto dance floors.

We seem to like it, although the eXtraOrdinary rendition album of 18 months ago by this multi-culti group from San Francisco with magpie tendencies (chanson, gypsy, reggae, Latin etc) didn’t really catch on.

I thought it was just far too user-friendly and café-directed, but noted they would be popular at a Womad.

This even more musically inclusive outing doesn’t change my opinion: there are plenty of crowd pleasing gestures, lots of danceable sections, more of that bordello sound (Tom Waits given a real wash’n’wax) and now some Tijuana horns, Indian flute and tabla, and a rap segment.

There’s politics here rendered poetically: songs are about people on borders and the margins, the dispossessed yearning for home, and the melancholy instrumental El Camino del Diablo is dedicated to Mexican migrants who have died in the Sonoran Desert while trying to make into America.

Hearts in the right place, but heads too when it comes to crafting a stateless, global fusion of styles designed to appeal to a broad demographic.

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