Plan C Volar

Plan C are the only Colombian fusion band in Canada, but it’s never been their intention to be a novelty. Their second album, Volar, sees them flying off in new directions beyond Afrobeat, rock, hip-hop, jazz, Caribbean/Latin styles and electronic composition in a Colombian context. Volar isn’t a total success but it’s a giant step beyond their debut. The album starts with the title track, with its awkward chorus centred on a very pop-friendly, Max Martin-like production. This production style isn’t as overt on other tracks but depending on your tastes, the polish will make or break the disc. One aspect of Plan C’s sound that suffers under this approach is the more pointed lyrics, which aim for political profundity but end up sounding too lightweight to get over. "Lies” and "Iraq” could have benefited from greater ferocity in execution. Nevertheless, the arrangements are a major strength throughout, as well as a progressive approach to keyboard sounds. When it all comes together, there are some outstanding tracks, like "Esta Comingo,” a spacey six/eight Afrobeat meditation featuring impassioned soloing. Juan Valencia and his band have endless ideas, but with such experimental ingredients they might do better with a more suitably experimental production, or recording themselves live in order to capture the band in their essence. However, this album compares favourably with other pan-Latin bands such as Grupo Fantasma and Ozomatli. (Issi)