Da Lata :: Serious
The love affair between London and Brazil has been brewing for a long time, since the days of Bossa Nova jazz or even before. Like a fine beverage, it has developed and matured to what it is today: an intoxicating blend of flavors and styles, based on a two way dialogue between musical superpowers.
Nothing can exemplify the fruits of brazilian-british cross pollination better than Da Lata's latest album Serious. From West-London to Bahia via Lagos, then into the Amazon and through the streets of Knotting Hill, this album satisfies an ear thirsty for tropical soul, sunshine beats, and the off-centre dance music of London's Nu-Jazz literati.
The product of a long lasting collaboration between Chris Franck, DJ Patrick Forge and Lee Hamblin, Da Lata was formed in 1994 and has released several tracks over the years for labels Brownswood (UFO's label from Japan), Far Out (UK), and Palm Pictures. Their compositions have long been chart toppers of the world's DJs and tastemakers such as Gilles Peterson, Rainer Truby, UFO, Thievery Corporation, and more. Though their name was a household name for DJ's it wasnt until their first album, Songs From the Tin dropped in 2000 that their music became known to the greater public.
This album, their sophomore effort, packs a heavy punch on enough tracks to make it an essential purchase for DJs who play jazzy/brazillian/house beats, and as a whole makes an excellent album for the rest of us to pump in the home or at the office. A couple of tracks fall short of the mark. "Reeling" with Jhelisa Anderson on vocals tries, but does not make it, as a techy R&B composition. But the following song, "Firefly" immediately dissipates any doubts that this album means business; this is the one to blow the mind on the dancefloor. Sheer lush tropical breakbeat madness with a mad pan-pipe hook that would make Herbie Hancock circa "watermelon man" nod with a wink. Other highlights include the afro-housey title track, "Serious," and the dubwise tropical groove of "Nuts."
In an age of compilations and quick and dirty productions, it is refreshing to see a whole artist album in this genre with integrity, consistency, and phenomenal production quality. Admittedly, one could expect no less from the players involved. Patrick Forge's DJ career and Radio Show on Kiss FM have propelled him into legendary status, and the trio has enlisted some fine guests on this album such as Bembe Segue, Baaba Maal, and Nina Miranda. Yet it still feels good to put the laser to the plastic, turn up the bass and turn up the volume, and to not be disappointed.