Music that crosses cultures is a broad topic where we get to peep all continents. Next week features what happens when Romania and Japan join forces. But not all hybrids are happy listening, not to my taste. I just got an earful of Beirut jazz meets hard rock guitar solos with extra reverb. So painful. Skip the electric guitar self-pleasuring and on to something more sociable. Synth, bass, minimal production, good times on the dance floor, I’m talking about NYC’s own Chico Mann.
Chico Mann is the alter ego of Marcos Garcia and he plays what he coined electro-afrobeat. His first record came out in 2007, synth-heavy, electronic, paying homage to Fela. Most cuts sound like what would come out of the perfect beach shack dance club. Palm fronds dress up your speakers while listening to a Chico Mann record. Garcia grew up in a Cuban household, with musician parents. He sings on some tracks, in Spanish. But his latest EP stirs up images of Central Park roller skater and is strictly instrumental.
The song “Ease On Out,” off of Manifest Tone Volume 3 EP from 2009, leads with a slinky guitar and drum combo. It edges into ’70s porn territory until a chorus in Spanish and some Moog intervene, settling in for a classic funk groove. Chico honed his guitar chops as a member of Antibalas and started a side project after showing his daughter some childhood Casio keyboards. His latest record, released in February on Wax Poetics and titled Instrumental EP, is post-disco with allusions to freestyle. Dancing to songs that sound retro and crisscross continents is as fun live as the video-game aesthetic suggests.
Chico Mann plays this Friday, May 18 at Salon Hecho, 356 Bowery.