Meet NYC’s Psychedelic Salsa Band La Mecánica Popular

Jan 6, 2014
1:20 PM

Finally, a band that sounds like 2014 New York City.

Forty years after the emergence of Fania Records in the same city, a future-looking Latin sound breaking barriers is connecting the roots, rhythms & future possibilities of tropical music. Meet La Mecánica Popular. On the heels of a steady rising breakout year which has seen the band perform & refine their “Psychedelic Salsa” sound in venues all over the city, as well as advance to become one of just three national finalists in Dewar’s “Dewaristas: The Search for the Next Great Latin Sound,” (Juanes: “La banda suena de puta madre!“) Brooklyn record label, Names You Can Trust presents the group’s debut album to a worldwide audience.  You can get it on iTunes (buy) or order the beautiful vinyl LP (buy).

Art by Muriel Holguin

The album features guest percussionist Louis Bauzo (Fania Records) & was produced by Xuxi Lazaro (Rita Indiana & Juan Luis Guerra). Led off by the lead single and official video which dropped earlier in the year on NYCT, “La Paz Del Freak,” the 9-track album of original compositions was recorded between NYC & Peru, weaving it’s way around the traditional stylings of Salsa & Bolero, with a heavy dose of eléctrico, incorporating a blend of Peruvian guitars & experimental synths, sounds and textures.

Upcoming Shows in New York City:

Monday, February 10 @ Taj
Friday, February 21 @ Nublu Friday
February 28 @ SOBs
Friday, March 21 @ Nublu

The band was featured in the NY Daily News in print last year about their breakthrough sound. You can read the full piece here.

Check out this interview with Sounds & Colours with band director, Efrain Rozas:

Is chicha or Peruvian cumbia a big influence on the sound of La Mecánica Popular?
Definitely. 3 of us come from Peru, we grew up listening to that music. Peruvian cumbia musicians had the psychedelic sounds in their phrasing, arrangements, sound effects, and at the same time had a killer rhythm section. That is what LMP is about! Being trippy but keeping the clave, the best of both worlds.

Are there any other big Latin psych influences on your music?
Salsa artists like Ray Barretto and Eddie Palmieri … you can hear psychedelia in their amazing arrangements and soloing. They were far out but were always close to the people, making them dance. I have to mention, although he is not Latin, the electric era of Miles Davis. It had a tight, funky groove, but at the same time they were flying on top of that with open improvisations. All of them are amazing musicians I can always go back to their records and learn something new.

Was it a conscious decision to add guitar to the band to take the music into new territory?
In our band guitar and synths replace the horns section. Instead of using harmonies and wind arrangements we go for textures, ambiance and rhythm using these instruments. This gives us a different sound from salsa, afrobeat or cumbia bands, it’s part of a quest for new musical possibilities which include psychedelia. In this we follow Peruvian cumbia where the guitar has a main role.

Do you see there as being a Latin psych scene in New York with young people listening to new variants of Latin music and bands trying different things with Latin styles?
This is something new. And it is exciting to do something new in New York! But it is also hard work. We are building a scene with bands like M.A.K.U. Soundsystem or Diego Bodego and I know it will be huge in a little while. There are a lot of people in the Latin and experimental scenes in this city. Our goal is to bring them together, make them dance and trip away at the same time.