Just caught a preview of the new Family Atlantica album set to debut on March 11th on Soundway Records and from the sound of it, it may just be the best new world music realease of the young year. I guess that's the new norm for Soundway Records, which has steadily improved their line-up of artists and continued to bring quality releases for many years now.
If last year's Will Holland-led Ondatropica was up your alley, then Family Atlantica's self-titled debut is gonna be a joy. This labor of love was recorded over 4 years in London and is an amalgamation of tropical influences true to the project's name. Venezuelan gaita, Cuban rumba, Colombian cumbias, Ghanaian highlife, Moroccan gnawa, Ethiopian lounge and calypso all come into play on the album and often within individual tracks. Family Atlantica is tropical magic imbued with psychedelia and spiritual jazz in an unpretentious way.
Releases amalgamating this many influences tend to excite as musch as forbode. Projects like this usually flounder in the presnce of so many influences but Family Atlantica strikes gold. The influences come together nicely in a strong debut that connects dots that have already been in place. It's like they've found a constellation of stars that's been in the sky the whole time, just waiting for somebody to grasp their connection.
The album boasts a host of diversity itself with musicians from both sides of the Atlantic led by London born Jack Yglesias, producer, multi-instrumentalist and a veteran of The Heliocentrics, and his wife Luzmira Zerpa, traditional Venezuelan musician, poet and singer with a magical voice acclaimed by Manu Chao.
"Escape To Palenque feat. Mulatu Astatke"
Not only that, but the project is as in the family as it's in the pocket with three different generations of Luzmira's family as well as a cast of musicians from the wider Family Atlantic family like legendary Ethiopian-jazz maestro Mulatu Astatke, who adds a bit of the exotic on piano on ‘Escape To The Palenque’, soloing in his unmistakable flowing Ethiopian 6/8 style. Also featured on the record are Senegalese gnawa master Nuru Kane on a cut called "Jaio," and Afro-Cuban group Yoruba Andabo. And judging from the video below, they can definitely do it right live…