Various Palenque! Palenque! Champeta, Criolla & Afro Roots in Colombia 1975-91

Why do Soundway's records always get high ratings? It's not just the thrill of the new — about two-dozen reissues into the game, it's easy to get addicted to novelty, and to compare to similarly themed projects. But Soundway always explores a good deal of the cultural and music business forces behind the tracks they select. Palenque! Palenque! furthers the research that comps like Panama! (three volumes deep) and Colombia! have undertaken, and presents yet another treasure trove. The theme is Afro-fusion, and it comes out in Colombia-style versions of mid-Atlantic percussive dance music that reached into the Caribbean, West and Central Africa, and Brazil for inspiration. Zouk, soukous and Afrobeat all feed into the Champeta sound of ringing guitars and locomotive percussion, usually unobstructed by drum kits. Lisandro Meza's Fela cover ("Shacalao") is an obvious touchstone, but Wganda Kenya's synth-bass-driven "El Lobo" is just one of many massive, irresistible grooves. (Soundway)