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Aural Pleasure Review

Campo: 'Campo'

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Although it’s billed as his solo debut, Uruguayan producer Juan Campodónico is far from alone on Campo, the latest chapter in the cinematic world of Bajofondo, a collective of composers, singers, and artists from Argentina and Uruguay (full disclosure: Current music/film editor Enrique Lopetegui wrote three of Bajofondo’s liner notes). While the band name and album title is a shortened alias for Campodónico, it also enlists him as captain of a musical team inspired by the confluence of cultures offered by its birthplace: Río de la Plata, a river with ports in both Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Using Spanish composer Kiko Veneno’s “Volando Voy” as an opening springboard, “La Marcha Tropical” signals a journey into what Campodónico calls “subtropical music,” a genre informed by everything from new wave and neo-tango to cumbia villera and Brit-pop. The lazy electro-cumbia is one of two stellar tracks driven by Swedish vocalist Ellen Arkbro, who neither speaks nor understands Spanish but charms with innocence and imperfection. The next stop is “1987,” a dark pop bolero showcasing Jorge Drexler’s moody vocal range. This slightly melancholic nostalgia trip was recorded in both English and Spanish and it seems the right version made it onto the album. While the lead single (“La Marcha Tropical”) casually incorporates both English and Spanish, everything else oddly sticks to one or the other. On “Heartbreaks,” Martín Rivero raps and sings in English with a swagger that might’ve sounded more convincing in Spanish, but even in English, he emerges as a valuable team player on “Devil Waits (For Me)” and “Cumbio” — an infectious alt-cumbia that expertly weaves fuzzy blips and samples in with güiros, cowbells, and congas. Here and almost throughout, Campodónico (assisted by Oscar-winning co-producer Gustavo Santaolalla, the soul of Bajofondo) succeeds on his mission of fusing decades and styles to suggest a present-day recollection of a past that never existed.

★★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

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