Arch and funny, Los Amigos Invisibles's Arepa 3000 vamps on disco, funk, and hard rock. Although it's largely based on the discredited disco form, Arepa 3000 is livelier and more original than the group's previous album, 1998's The New Sound of the Venezuelan Gozadera, which was more allied to lounge and orthodox rock and roll. What you get with Arepa (a kind of flatbread that, apparently, can be eaten or beaten like a drum) is a nonstop dance party. It's a sun-baked homage to groove culture, effectively scrambling disco ("Caliente"), salsa ("Cuchi Cuchi"), rock ("Masturbation Session"), drum 'n' bass ("Amor"), merengue ("El Baile del Sobon"), and cha-cha (the sweetly smoky "Domingo Echao").
Structured like an evening in a dance club, Arepa 3000 isn't about solos or climaxes. It's about continuity, and it's easy to visualize a DJ cutting into and out of Invisibles tracks. Better yet, it's easy to visualize this six-man group commandeering a stage and bringing dance culture to life in a rock setting. Based in Caracas, Los Amigos Invisibles hosts underground club nights, plants its tunes on Venezuelan radio, and records clever, over-the-top music. These invisible friends are clearly tuned into house, hip-hop, and techno (though the CD fortunately lacks the cold feeling that techno can project). They are so versatile and witty, one wonders how they'll translate their unique, expansive take on the groove to live performance. If they ever play Cleveland, the venue had better allow dancing -- and go light on the bouncers.