Peru Negro Sangre De Un Don

Peru Negro, as the name suggests, are the cultural ambassadors of black Peru. They were formed in the early '70s by artistic director Ronny Campos (who sadly passed away recently) and, incredibly, this is their first international release. It is a significant addition to the pantheon of Latin sounds. The rhythms are markedly different than many smooth-sailing Latin beats, like cumbia and merengue. Sangre De Un Don has a lurching groove that, not surprisingly, brings Afro-Cuban music to mind. Whereas Afro-Cuban rhythms and chants are very closely related to drum patterns of West Africa, Sangre De Un Don fuses Spanish melodies, African rhythmic templates and unusual instrumentation - donkey jaw scrapers, anyone? The tempo is so elastic that it sounds as though the band may fall apart any minute, but Peru Negro are amazingly precise with this extremely swinging music. This disc is a test of anyone's sense of polyrhythm; that's reason enough to pick it up. But the songwriting, piloted by deceptively soothing acoustic guitars and seductive crooning, is exceptional. Many inventive structures unfold slowly and soulfully, with lots of interesting changes that are impossible to predict but hit home each time they take place. (Silva Screen)