Zemog / El Gallo Bueno La Cama De La Conga

Latin Alternative indeed. The second effort of Abraham Gomez-Delgado is the kind of album David Byrne wishes he could have made with Rei Momo many years back. La Cama De La Conga ("the bed of the conga”) is intended to contrast with stereotypically "hot” Latin grooves. He works with a wide palette of instrumentation and leftfield production to amplify his Puerto Rican heritage within a more abstract sonic framework. This disc is chock full of absurdist lyrics and strangely funky grooves which — unlike Byrne’s efforts — go down smoothly. Gomez-Delgado’s vocals are an acquired taste — he’s no romantic salsero. He often exhibits a strangled kind of style that is more reminiscent of punk than anything else, especially together with the Marc Ribot like guitars all over the album. Equally important is the wide array of brass, woodwinds and sax weighted towards the bottom end, all of which are in evidence in the lead track "La Costilla,” whose muted trumpet leads and danzon-inspired groove keeps slowing down from a sickening lurch to a dub minimalism by track’s end — far from a typical floor-filling arrangement. "El Jardin Suspiria” juxtaposes a chamber jazz arrangement fuelled by clarinets and flutes with sunny Californian pop guitars. The albums closer, a scorching nine-minute slice of free jazz salsa, will banish any thought that this music is too constructed, too arranged, and too tongue in cheek to be convincing. Gomez-Delgado has produced a provocative disc that should cause listeners to examine their expectations of Latin music. (Threshold House)