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Ozomatli - Embrace the Chaos  Print E-mail
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Dan Macintosh   
Tuesday, 11 September 2001

Embrace the Chaos,
Interscope Records, 2001
| Performance 9.5 | Sound 9 |

With its insistent Latin percussion, Spanish-language vocals and ska-like counterpoint horn parts, "Pa Lante," which opens Embrace The Chaos, announces how Ozomatli will not go willingly into any easy musical categorization. Add rapping from De La Soul on the next track, "1 2 3 4," and you realize you’re in for more variety than a trip down the Souplantation aisle.



Ozomatli, a SoCal outfit, is produced by Los Lobos saxophonist Steve Berlin on a few cuts, which is a little like a passing of the torch since his band also tore down many misconceptions about what it means to be a Hispanic band, especially back when they blasted onto the music scene back in the ‘70s.

Ironically, the title cut ("Embrace The Chaos") features one of the album’s tightest arrangements. Fueled by group vocals, swaying percussion and an urgent attitude, it also serves as one of this disc’s most traditionally Latin cuts.

This is not to say that Ozomatli is a sloppy band. This eight-piece unit frequently plays fast and furious, while amazingly still sounding together.

Ozomatli’s members rarely slow down to catch their breath, but when they do, as on the instrumental "Pensativo (Interlude)," they sound like the sophisticated soundtrack to "West Side Story."

Embrace The Chaos is wonderfully recorded, as group vocals and big bold brass power abide together nicely in the mix. The best way of summing up what these guys do is to say they make politicized Latin jazz with a visible rock edge.

Since Ozomatli don’t sing about shaking their bon-bons, as does Ricky Martin, chances are they won’t catch the tag end of today’s Latin pop wave. But because they’re so darn good, the members of Ozomatli are like a whole wide ocean unto themselves, which is a kind of chaos well worth embracing.








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