Sonido Gallo Negro transform mambo, cumbia, and more with retro kitsch and postmodern flair | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Sonido Gallo Negro transform mambo, cumbia, and more with retro kitsch and postmodern flair


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On its third album, Mambo Cósmico (Glitterbeat), Mexico City juggernaut Sonido Gallo Negro expands well beyond its cumbia roots and further extends its psychedelic treatment of vintage Latin American dance forms. The group balances kitsch with earnest adoration, injecting twangy surf-guitar licks and wheezing Farfisa organ riffs into galloping polyrhythms. Its largely instrumental music (excepting a few simple vocal chants) summons the spirit of the Peruvian chicha craze of the 60s and applies it to an assortment of tropical dances, including mambo, danzon, and porro—the last on a strutting cover of “Tolu,” a 50s gem by Colombian cumbia star Lucho Bermúdez. The group touches on Middle Eastern modalities on “Cumbia Ishtar,” one of several tunes where Jorge Alderete complements the organ lines with theremin melodies. Resonant vibraphone adds a touch of tropical cool to the stately cha-cha “La Foca Cha Cha Chá,” and an ethereal arpa jarocha cascades across the simmering grooves of the original cumbia, “Catemaco.” Several tunes have a decidedly retro flair. “¿Quién Sera?,” an old Mexican mambo by Pablo Beltrán Ruiz, features snaking Peter Gunn-style guitars and has a vibe similar to the theme from the Munsters. “Danzon Fayuquero” deliriously collides a violin-led contra dance with staccato guitar-organ jam that conjures visions of a classic discotheque along Sunset Boulevard.   v

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