The jig is up in the world/dance music fusion game. We're bombarded with too many compilations and artist albums that spotlight studio boffins who conjure up just enough disparate non-Western elements -- a tabla sample here, a Moroccan flute there -- to pass off as enlightened and universal. Thankfully, Da Lata -- the London-based recording team of DJ Patrick Forge and multi-instrumentalist Christian Franck -- still offers a sharp alternative to this culture-blanding mess. Boosted by inventive instrumentation and a keen sense of funk, Da Lata's focused grasp of Afro-Brazilian styles calls shame on the diluted worldbeat game.
Rather than crowd its tunes with clichéd multicultural samples, Da Lata keeps them lean and ready for the dancefloor. Over rhythmic layers that vary between bossa, samba, and broken beat, the duo's arrangements seem to let each song's melodic elements seductively brush against one another. Even unlikely combos pan out: The cushioned ocarina tones on "Firefly" perfectly ride its Rhodes piano, while Marcelo Janeci da Silva's jaunty accordion brings old-world flavor to Jhelisa Anderson's vocal on the up-tempo funk of "Something."
Perhaps Serious' true highlight is its opening title track, a charging Afrobeat jam with two refreshing twists: female lead vocals (by Bembe Segue and Mamani Keïta) and, once again, da Silva's funky accordion. "Serious" speaks best to Da Lata's ability to avoid globalist pretense while getting the world to shake its ass.
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