Senor Coconut – “Around the World” (Easy Rec./Nacional Rec.)

Posted on March 12, 2009

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It’s been years and years since the last Senor Coconut record, an (intentionally?) cottage industry-looking disc called El Baile Aleman that reworked Kratwerk songs with pitch perfect Latin music samples and ended up one of the coolest geographical music transplants ever performed. The line was that this record proved Kraftwerk’s songwriting chops, but if you really needed this record to prove that, you must have a stunted imagination. What it proved was that Senor Coconut – in reality, a German techno composer living in Argentina named Atom Heart — had some incredibly airtight arranging skills, regardless of technology or genre. I never saw one thing about the record anywhere in the outside world, but I was glad I had a copy of the thing and forced it on anyone who let their guard down.

Last fall there finally came the announcement of a new album. The record, called Around the World, was a little less focused in its song selection process, but the general idea was the same. This time, the album was stacked with club hits from around the world, dating back to the 50’s (check the source material of Perez Prado’s “Que Rico El Mambo“), all strung together every three or four songs with a new variation on Daft Punk’s title track.

It doesn’t have the giggle factor, that instant genre friction, that Aleman had, but the album kicks in all kinds of directions anyway. Coconut takes on eleven songs with moods as thick as the rhythms are dense, and it’s the tone that makes the difference. Wispy fogs of reverb trail off everything in the cha-cha take on The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams,” which has such perfect bones that even Marilyn Manson sounded good dressing it up. This version is dark, punchy, and infectious. I’d hold onto this album on the strength of this song alone.

Prince’s “Kiss” pops – it’s a little warmer than the one you’re used to (even if that’s the Tom Jones one), but it’s still all sizzle on taut little hand drums and a nervous upright. “Corcovado” booms with apocalyptic romance and sinister evil vocoder line. “Que Rico El Mambo” lets the curtain drop a bit and baits the programming with caffeine NES glitches. “Pinball Wizard” turns into “Pinball Chacha” and gains a ton of international spy cred on the way.

The only weak parts of the album are the Daft Punk bits, which seem a little more gratuitous every time they pop up. The rest of the album: get it.

Bonus live clip of Senor Coconut doing “Smoke On the Water” –> This is insane.

Mr. Coconut’s MySpace Page. Enjoy.

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Posted in: Record Reviews