Although it may be difficult to confine the music by multi-instrumentalist Chico Mann to just one genre, it is safe to say that his sophomore release, Analog Drift, is a quintessential New York album. With a heavy Afrobeat and Cuban influences, vocals in both Spanish and English, and a number of synthesizers in hand, Chico Mann, aka Marcos Garcia, creates a melting pot of soulful and sexy sounds, much like the city that never sleeps.

Previously released digitally through Garcia’s Website, Analog Drift is now expanding its audience through Wax Poetics Records and is ready to be played on the dance floors. Right from the first beat, a listener will want to put on a fedora hat and take over the town.

 

Considering that Garcia grew up in New York and New Jersey and that his father was the owner of a NYC Latin record label, it’s easy to see the authenticity in what he is trying to do with his music. Garcia has a deep understanding of which sounds from the past, present, and future can work together to induce dancing. On the first track, “Harmonia,” Garcia sings, “Queremos harmonia,” which translates to, “We want harmony,” and harmony is exactly what Garcia accomplishes on the album. As funky bass lines and finger-picked guitar rhythms lay the foundations, synthesizers shimmer and fill out each song. All the sounds seem to respect one another, allowing each one to breathe and flourish.

On “Anima” and “All That Is Rising,” the synthesizers appear to have a conversation with each other. Before any vocals kick in, the instruments follow a call-and-response pattern. “All That Is Rising” has a more dramatic beginning as percussion builds up anticipation, creating imagery of an empty warehouse or a dark alley. More movement is slowly introduced, like a city transitioning into its time for nightlife.

While there is a lot of use of electronic sounds, the songs all come off as fun and smooth, as opposed to being hyper. A sense of hipness remains consistent throughout. With a modern touch, the album incorporates all that was cool in the ’70s and ’80s, from roller discos to break dancing. At times, Garcia’s vocals reach a higher-pitched spectrum, but remain aligned with the energetic tradition of Cuban vocalists. The lyrics are more like phrases rather than stories, and while some are memorable, the focus is more on the musical groove and getting in the zone.

With a cover of Talking Heads’ “Once In A Lifetime,” the album goes deep into the ’80s and wraps up nicely with the slower tempos of “Metele Mano” and “This Love.” Even as the album seeps into nostalgia, the good energy remains. There is no moment on the album where things clash or seem forced. Like the diverse history of New York City makes it one of the most fascinating places in the world, Analog Drift takes the classic and the new to make an invigorating
experience.

Chico Mann – “Once In A Lifetime”

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