Quick and to the Point
: Alternative takes on Latin music articulating that, musical or not, life is too serious to take seriously...
Lyrics are not the strength of Zemog’s El Gallo Bueno, or the Good Rooster. More often than not, the vocals feel and seem in jest, albeit their conceptual and musical role is exquisitely fulfilled throughout the recording. Thankfully, nonetheless, they are devoid of the ordinary narcissistic self-angst –sans true understanding of anything– compulsory in much youthful contemporary music. What you do find in this release is some serious slamma-jamma musical amusement encompassing an amalgamation of Rock, Bomba, New York Mozambique, Plena, Chá-like structures, Dissonance, Puerto Rican Jíbaro stringed music, Guaguancó, Jazz, Cumbia, Cuban congas or comparsas and skewed readings of the Salsa aesthetic.
Incidental to the true musical smarts of the work is its characteristic happy-go-lucky attitude, preventing the musicians to take their tasks at hand too seriously. Such a mind-set can be readily pictured in the swagger of “Palo de Ron,” or Rum Shot. It is also apparent in the “sloppy-slurpy-Joe” baritone sax solos –as on “Anímate”– that fatten the unique sonic feel of a group with its own sense of musical bottoms.
“Murciélago” leads one to appreciate the players' fine and fiery talent. Taylor Ho-Bynum’s muted cornet is as Jazzy as Afro-Cuban, swinging and tasty as one could wish, while Tim “Mondongo” Messbauer’s trombone is quite driven. Both show an endemic capacity to mesh themselves extremely well with the fabric of the percussive underpinnings of all the themes, while coloring the textures in their own hip way.
Even so, a timbale solo on "Lares Vegas" readily reminds the listener that this type of music is a “skin-on-skin” phenomena. The major and minor percussive groundwork of the album, however, does not overshadow its parallel stringed foundations, sampling enhancements, and the virtuosic capacity of the horns to elicit novel lines of thought, phrasings and feelings.
Bold, ballsy, brashy and fun, Zemog: El Gallo Bueno is one fine mutant Latin release. It inhabits seldom-inhabited nether musical regions; perhaps you owe yourself such a trip...
Contact: Aagoo Records .