If David Byrne were to select a quirky Mexican group to showcase on his Luaka Bop label, then Sonido Gallo Negro (or Black Rooster Sound to give them their English equivalent name) would surely be prime candidates and Berlin-based label Glitterbeat have beaten them to it. This is a joyous trip into Latin psychadelia with a deliberate nod to the 1970s and anyone who might criticise the group for being overly cheesy in the use of instrumentation is missing the point entirely: that is an essential ingredient of the band’s sound and a raw rootsy retro groove is precisely what the band are striving to achieve and doing it extremely well it has to be said. A predominantly instrumental line-up of tracks complete with sound effects and samples that take a leaf out of Gotan Project, guitar and organ solos that hark back to classic Santana and a relentless pumping percussive beat that takes on board traditional Columbian cumbia, but gives it a modern and urban Mexico City twist and you have the Sonido Gallo Negro sound formula condensed into a single sentence. Hailing from the exuberant music scene of Mexico City, the band, comprising nine members,minus any brass, are strongest on the heavyweight ‘Serenata Güajira’ with a lovely flute solo, the clever play on words ‘Coup de poudre’ where the Santana influence is most evident in the guitar solo and the shuffling uptempo cumbia groove of Alfonso Grana (Selvatica)’ which tells the story of a Galician immigrant who strikes up a rapport with the Incas of eastern Mexico and ends up being named ‘King of the Jibaros’ is as creative as the storyline itself.
Simply put, Sonido Gallo Negro make the kind of music that is ideal for the backdrop to an independent minded film-maker such as Jim Jarmusch, or even Pedro Almodóvar, and at some point in their career, they will surely take a career left turn and make a seriously good film score. In the meantime, this album should be enjoyed with a spicy enchilada muy saboroso and a cool beer for the ideal way to wind down an evening in June. Music to enjoy the summer months away to.