Review: Cuba's Manana Records launches via a fine EP from Obbatuke, a eight-piece rumba outfit fronted by renowned quinto player Carlos Guerra. The band are apparently regulars at the legendary Casa del Caribe in Santiago de Cuba, a venue widely considered to be the beating heart of the Eastern rumba scene. Musically, the five tracks here mix typically high tempo, densely percussive rumba rhythms with chanted vocals. The lack of other musical instruments is startling, but takes nothing away from the tracks. In fact, it only enhances their back-to-basics charms. It proves beyond any doubt that it's the drums that make great dance music.
Review: Since launching earlier this year, Manana Records seems to have specialized in cross-cultural collaborations. The label's latest album release offers more of the same, with globally focused producers Sound Species joining forces with Ache Meyi, a four-piece outfit from Santiago de Cuba. The resultant album not only joins the dots between the past and the present - traditional folkloric percussion blended with contemporary dancefloor rhythms - but also organic and electronic instrumentation. It's a blend that works well, with Sound Species expertly crafting their synths and drum machines to the dense percussion and Afro-Haitian vocals of Ache Meyi. There's plenty of floor-friendly material to be found throughout, but also occasional trips into dreamy downtempo territory.