Often the most beautiful Latin American music comes from the most scarred of nations. Right now Colombia is embroiled in civil war, yet Aterciopelados have made a gorgeous, swinging rock album. Over almost a decade this group, actually a collaboration between singer/guitarist Andrea Echeverri and bassist/arranger Hector Buitrago, have evolved into a kind of tropicalismo Portishead, weaving a fabric of gently shifting electronic sounds, guitar, and Latin percussion beneath Echeverri’s warm, breathy, unabashedly romantic singing. Nothing seems out of place in Gozo pederoso’s weave of trance, Colombian folk, and pop: not the noodling two-note baubles that decorate the verses of " Un lo mio y lo tuyo " as congas clip-clop and Echeverri croons, not the sharp Marc Ribot–like utterances of guitar that periodically crack up through the mesh of grooves on these 13 songs, not the pan pipes that smooth the opening of " Rompecabezas " until psychedelic guitar and snare drum come in to whisk the song off to trippy heights. As a pitiful gringo, I understand little of the lyrics, but I gather they talk of unity through music, searching for love and identity, living life to the fullest, and following one’s inner light. To judge by the emotional sway of Aterciopelados’ music, if I’d paid more attention in my high-school language classes, they might bring tears to my eyes.
Issue Date: May 24 - 30, 2001