La Tortilla – the Antigua All Stars really have something here. The core group of about 15 musicians (all of whom deserve your support, even if we don’t have the space to highlight each of them here) have brought together an incredible diversity of styles that begin with the anchor voice of Maf’s rock steady and raggamuffin beats, carry on through the lyricism of Malcolm Oakley’s steady songwriter’s hand and gold rusted voice, include touches of Japanese ballads, French bossa, Syd’s poetic south desert blues, some Latin cumbia and a bit of polka just for good measure.
Beyond that there’s also a hot Scandinavian chick named Emma who slays men with her voice (something I can attest to personally after spending a night with her in a gay karaoke bar in the East Village of NYC a few weeks back.)
The CD is built to allow the free expression of every artist performing in their own genre, but also pulls together the disparate talents in support of one another with layered tracks and musical collaborations that would never have been given the chance to fly without this project.
Arguably the best track on the album is the “La Tortilla” theme song, a Guatemalan Son beat beauty that grew, organically, from the minds and souls of the artists as they met one day a few months back. The song manages to be haunting, yet simple; charming, yet disarming – with spices in which anyone living in town for a while will revel. My particular favorite is when, in the background, between the verse and the chorus we hear a perfectly timed ayudante call out “Guate, Guate, Guate,” and then a passing Zeta Gas truck. Sweet little treasures like this are sprinkled throughout the song and, for those of us who can only tap our feet, allow a certain sense of belonging. This is our scene, too.
Simply said, Bravo.