“French salsa wizards”? Yes, music in English is not the only source musicians from other countries look to whenever they feel the need to inspire themselves with something foreign. As far as the legitimacy of Fatal Mambo goes, they’re the real thing and more, bringing a certain odd twist to traditional Latin rhythms that’s hard to define as being anything other than… different.
Featuring French lyrics, the meaning behind most of these songs escapes me, but their hip-shaking, foot-shuffling appeal is undeniable. “Gepaltan” is an excellent example — a fast-moving piece with bright horns, crazed timbales, and an odd little sample. The subsequent “Salsaïoli” starts with a piano-and-handclaps riff worthy of Ramsey Lewis, and just gets better and better.
Fatal Mambo is one of those records that clearly demonstrates that in this planet, music is not a series of small stagnating puddles but rather a continuously circulating tidal pool. Here’s to music! Tinder Records, 619 Martin Ave., Unit 1, Rohnert Park, CA 94928; http://worldmusic.com/tinder