Alfonso Lovo La Gigantona

The latest reissue by the Numero Group label extends their marvellous run of left field, Latin-oriented releases that cover subcultures from Chicago to Belize to, in this case, Nicaragua. Amidst this label's resurrection of scratchy 45s are a number of basement tape-oriented releases, and this one qualifies. Lovo was the son of a prominent Nicaraguan politician in the '70s and clearly had money and/or studio time available to him to create this obsessive, Santana-esque cosmic journey. Aided by Santana's percussionist (and fellow Nicaraguan) Jose "Chepito" Arias, the sound is superior, free-floating Latin rock. After a classical guitar opening that nods to Andres Segovia, "La Bomba de Neutron" starts with Lovo's mediocre voice leading into a meditation on tape delay and Fender Rhodes noodling. It's no wonder Herbie Hancock is invoked in the liner notes, as this free-floating, dubwise groove taps successfully into the universal fusion vibe that he and other Miles Davis alumni were positing at the time. In comparison, La Gigantona holds up well, with particular highlights being the psych, synth-y "Sinfonia de Espacio en Do Menor" and the heavily phased funk of "Firebird Feathers." (Numero Group)