Ry Cooder, who helped shepherd the Buena Vista Social Club toward international stardom, steps out in far more modern style on this stunning collaboration with guitarist Manuel Galbán, arranger for Los Zafiros, an idiosyncratic Cuban doo-wop group of such prowess that they wowed the Beatles.
Backed by Jim Keltner and Ry's son Joachim on drums, various Buena Vistans, folkloric batá percussionists, and occasional luscious singing, Cooder and Galbán concoct a new musical hybrid that swings and twangs and intoxicates. "Drume Negrita" launches the 12 tunes in shadowy, mysterious style. "Monte Adentro," a spirited, swirling mambo, follows. The tracks tumble, twitch, and always seduce. They include a salacious take on Pérez Prado's "Patricia," the spirited cha-cha "Caballo Viejo," and Galbán's "Bolero Sonámbulo," an otherworldly, deeply bawdy composition whose tempo and approach sum up the comfortably surreal, unique atmosphere of this work. You might hear shades of ? & the Mysterians, smears of Tex-Mex, a lot of Duane Eddy, some Santo & Johnny. You'll surely hear originality, as Mambo Sinuendo is the sound of sensuality, courtesy of an electric-guitar band that's so far south of the creative border, it has staked out its own musical terrain.