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El Existential

Grupo Fantasma

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Album Review

Grupo Fantasma's fame for their collaborations, either in full group mode or individually, almost outstrips that of their own work — a pity, because as their fifth album El Existential readily demonstrates, they deserve plenty of credit for their own work. The rich roil of sounds the band explores throughout is no surprise; exuberant horns, classic funk beats, upbeat rhythms, crackling guitar bursts, and much more besides can be heard in the first song, "Realizando," alone, and the rest of the album lives up to that start. While one could argue that the result is ultimately inspired fusion rather than a new path forged, it's that inspiration that is the key (and why else would one song be titled "Cumbianchera" if it wasn't a combination of exactly what it suggests?). Even the two guest star appearances give a perfect sense of the range at work — salsa piano legend Larry Harlow, who's previously played with the group, takes a new turn on "Juan Tenorio," while Meat Puppets main man Curt Kirkwood appears on "Telaraña" to add a little guitar twang and kick to an already peppy song. The main focus is of course on the band's work straight-up and the group's perfectly in-the-pocket playing just serves it up one song after another almost without a break; by the time they hit a slower number with "Hijo" it almost feels like the necessary lull for a group of dancers to catch their breath a bit — only for the big guitar riffs and drums on the break to help fire things up yet again. Similarly, individual moments leap out all over the place — like the handclaps and brass break on "La Conozco" and the high-speed (and brilliantly played) introduction to "El Consejo" swinging into a thrilling main arrangement.

Customer Reviews

The Most Cohesive Album Yet

Fantasma's best creation to date, it's a blend of Salsa, Cumbia, Funk, Jazz, and Pop masterfully forged into a sound that defines Grupo Fantasma. This album ROCKS!!!

Great Record!!!!!!!

Ok, let me get the negative out of the way. I am craving more funk from these guys. Other than that, I love this record. It is about as close as you can come to capturing the essence of this group live. Let's go down the list. Percussion - Jose and Sweet Lou are about as good as it gets. I've seen them go off and I'm talking on par with Santana's boys, Sheila E and Fania all-stars. Drums and Bass - It's all about the groove with these guys. The transition from latin jazz rythms to Funk to Cumbia are seamless. Horn section is big n funky. The guitars - Like the guitars solos and good use of fx and just about the best latin rythm guitar playing that I have heard. Vocalists - Kino can deliver a great romantic ballad and between him and Jose the harmonies are in harmony....if you know what I mean. Fantasma appeals to a wide variety of people. I caught Grupo in Austin, the crowd was white folks, black folks and everyone in between and they were all groovin. This made me realize that this kinda of music is the perfect vehicle to take latin music all over the world.

Grupo Fantasma

Grupo Fantasma is so hot right now. Grupo Fantasma

Biography

Formed: 2000 in Austin, TX

Genre: Salsa y Tropical

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Austin-based Latin funk jam band Grupo Fantasma formed in 2000, and quickly established a reputation for their high-energy live shows. Comprised of musicians hailing from all over Latin America, Fantasma's players were brought together by Austin's bustling music scene, finding in each other a hunger and drive to create something truly unique. Drawing influences from genres and styles like cumbia, salsa, old-school funk, reggae, and more, the band built a buzz surrounding its new and inventive style...
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El Existential, Grupo Fantasma
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