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El Existential by Grupo Fantasma
Released: May 2010
Label: Nat Geo Music
The good Grupo from Austin finally (mostly) lives up to the promise of its live performances with an album that's tougher, busier and a little brasher than its previous releases. As usual, they behave as if the slick-ification of salsa never happened, seasoning their sound liberally with cumbia, funk and soul. They're often at their best instrumentally -- the epic horns of "El Consejo" could have scored a '70s gangster flick, and the breakdown in "Juan Tenorio" (an homage/dismissal of the maldito Don Juan) is so guttural it could have stepped straight out of a '70s Fania classic.
Sarah Bardeen

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