Señor Coconut presents: Coconut FM
Essay Recordings

Another month (perhaps week), another Uwe Schmidt release, even if Coconut FM isn't a Schmidt release but a Señor Coconut one, and more specifically a hand-picked collection of Schmidt's Latin Club faves. Consequently, Coconut FM (issued by Germany's Essay Recordings, the label behind the popular Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats comps) provides a great 45-minute introduction to Reggaeton, Funk Carioca, Cumbia Villera, and Aciton styles; even better, the album identifies the country (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Puerto Rico, Panama, et cetera) associated with each track. And if by chance you're less than enthralled by a given song (Bonde Neurose's headache-inducer “Feia Pra Cascalho” a likely candidate, for instance), stick around as each one lasts little more than two or three minutes. Despite the stylistic differences, virtually every song percolates with a boisterous mix of congas, horns, vibes, synths, electro beats, left-field samples, and declamatory vocals.

Amongst the highlights: the exuberant call-and-response between Gladys and a bright horn section in “No Te Vayas Corazon,” the ‘50s-styled blues-funk of Vanessinha & Alessandra's “Gira,” The Twilight Zone theme that surfaces amidst the barks and growls of Os Carrascos's “Labirinto Dos Carrasco,” the funky horn groove that channels the Godfather of Soul's spirit in Malha Funk's “Nova Danca (Melo Do James Brown),” and the bright guitar picking in Negreton's “Dile” that recalls the African juju of King Sunny Adé. On one of the strongest cuts, Schmidt (under the alias Don Atom) drops some punch-funk Aciton with a little help from Chilean rapper Tea Time on a live “Mueve La Cintura.” The song enticingly hints at how fantastic an alternate version of the album would be with Schmidt doing covers of the artists' songs instead of compiling them.

Admittedly, if you're not fluent in Spanish or Portuguese you'll have little clue as to what the songs are about but it makes little difference when the joyous vibe transcends language barriers with such ease. If the bizarre tale Los Pibes Chorros is recounting in “Llegamos Los Pibes Chorros” can't be deciphered, you can still bask in its grooving sax swing. Similarly, you may have no clue what Catherine is singing about in the Reggaeton track “No Me K's-tigues” but you'll have no difficulty detecting its strain of melancholy. Yes, Coconut FM is slightly wacky but it's also high-spirited, rollicking fun.

November 2005