Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band The Serpent's Mouth

Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band The Serpent's Mouth
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With their second release, Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band have avoided the dreaded sophomore slump. The Serpent's Mouth follows the same island-influenced funk and hip-hop that the Mighty Macombos offshoot bumped on its predecessor, featuring a mix of covers and originals led by Bjorn Wagner's steel pans.
 
It's a more confident band this time, however, as covers of Mobb Deep's "Burn" and Mary J. Blige's "I Love You" are rocked with a muscular panache, and originals like "Touchdown" — with its sci-fi effects — and the cosmic title track approach the cinematic.
 
"Crockett's Theme" (from the Miami Vice TV show) is the most revelatory of the covers, as Jan Hammer's synths are stripped, and the groove shifts into a darker tropical vibe. Not that these guys have forgotten to party. Amerie's "1 Thing" bumps harder than the original, as steel pans replace the vocal, while "Hoola-Hoop" is a flute-flavoured dance floor filler.
 
The Serpent's Mouth includes a take on Gang Starr's "All For the Cash" that fleshes out the minimalism of the original with a widescreen arrangement, and is arguably Bacao at their most refined. (Big Crown Records)