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Since the early '90s, vocalist Andrea Echeverri and bassist Héctor Buitrago have collaborated on creating pop-rock and sci-fi electronica rooted in the regional music of their native Colombia, reinventing themselves with each subsequent album. The duo layers traditional flute and synthesized sound effects over new wave, vallenato, and folklorico rhythms; they are as comfortable using traditional indigenous instruments or trip-hop beats - when they are not busy combining the two. (Think of them as a South American version of Café Tacuba, with Julieta Venegas on vocals.)

Lyrically, Echeverri, and Buitrago cite the lasting influence of the nueva canción movement. A term for a wide-range of politically oriented Latin American folk and traditional music, nueva canción songs celebrate their indigenous heritage while championing social justice and political resistance; even love songs are loaded with meaning and metaphor. (Extra props to the two for backing their words with action.)

Aterciopelados keeps the nueva canción tradition alive and explores new directions in the process. This is evident in "La Pipa de La Paz," where Echeverri sings lovingly of a (presumably pre-conquest) paradise, and in "Caribe Atómico," an ecological "mayday mayday," as the refrain goes, whose lighthearted spirit belies the seriousness of the issue.

"No Necesito" is a modernized bolero replete with warbling guitar, followed by the rocking ranchera "La Estanca." Marc Ribot lends his talent playing an Argentinean tango-esque milonga on "Maligno (Malign)." Meanwhile, in "El Album," the duo sings of "El álbum de mi cabeza/sólo con fotos tuyas se llena" (the album of my mind/filled with your photos) over a salsa beat.

Aterciopelados rounds out the Evolución with two new tracks and one remix - upbeat, joyous songs of love. "Mi Vida Brilla," also featured on a bonus CD-ROM, and "Tanto Amor" are both influenced heavily by the birth of Echeverri's baby daughter, while "Florecita 2003" is a speedy, danceable version of the classic "Florecita Rockera," also included in this collection.

On Evolución, Aterciopelados has crafted a disc of old and new as smooth as the band's name implies.

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More by Alejandro Pérez

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