SIDESTEPPER EXPLORES THE CARIBBEAN

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A review by Angel Romero with a music video.

Sidestepper – Supernatural Love (Real World Records, 2016)

The Sidestepper project is back with Supernatural Love, an album that brings together Colombian roots music, Caribbean influences and electronic beats. The current incarnation of Sidestepper is based in Bogotá and aims to recreate the feel of the great pre-electronic dance Caribbean orchestras. Most of the beats are now performed by acoustic instruments like drums and shakers, although the electronics are still present in the form of bass synths and dub effects.

On previous versions of Sidestepper, the sound was very Colombian. This time, Supernatural Love features a mix of pieces rooted in Colombian traditions along with with calypso, blues and other musical forms. The band delivers vocals in Spanish and English, in an effort to demonstrate the connections between the musics of the Spanish and English-speaking Caribbean, including New Orleans.

The pieces that work best are the Colombian-rooted compositions, full of seductive rhythm, charming melodies and vocals. These inclue Fuego Que Te Llama, Come See Us Play, Magangué, Lover, La Flor Y La Voz (Parte 1) and La Flor Y La Voz (Parte 2). The rest of the songs are a sort of laid back smooth world music that is pleasant to the ear.

The album lineup includes Richard Blair on (bass and lead synths, vocals, flutes, kalimba, harmonica; Erika Muñoz (Eka) on lead vocals; Teto Ocampo on guitars; El Chongo on tambor alegre, hand drums, percussion, vocals, flutes; and Guajiro on vocals and percussion.

Sidestepper was originally a studio project developed by British producer Richard Blair in the mid-1990s. He moved to Colombia in 1993 and has been working with some of the finest musicians, singers and songwriters there.

Sidestepper was transformed evolve into a full live band that released two significant albums, ‘More Grip’ and ‘3AM’. Many former musicians and singers from Sidestepper went on to great success with their own bands like Chocquibtown, Bomba Estereo and Sistema Solar.

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