Music is a transcendent experience that is so personal, so intimate, no one person can eliminate what music means to any one individual. To make that music, however, is like a marriage. A marriage to an art. A marriage to the collective. A marriage to a, sometimes, tumultuous culture.
For any marriage to reach nearly two decades is something beautiful. For a group of artists to reach the same is something to celebrate.
Grupo Fantasma’s American Music Vol. VII is a landmark in nearly twenty years’ worth of experience and vision. While Grupo delivers most of the thirteen-track record in Spanish, the album straddles boundaries that would otherwise divide. It does so with such grace and beauty, I can confidently say I have never felt so audibly embraced in such a rich dive into heritage and principals as I have with American Music Vol. VII.
American Music Vol. VII, any way you put it, is American music in the most proper definition of the term. Sonically spanning two continents Grupo Fantasma concocts an assembly that is deeply, deeply rooted in heritage then bends it around arbitrary lines on a map to chisel out a sound that is as pioneering as virtually anything else you can put on the table. The classic brass section floats among some very rock constructs and, in many cases throughout, stands up to a refreshing tenacity from an otherwise accompaniment of sound. Heavy beats and slick grooves further support the modern genre that is purely American. Even as political sentiment (“The Wall”) show its face, this record isn’t a direct spotlight on perplexing political decisions. Instead, Grupo Fantasma brilliantly blends a generationally binding, enriching sound that is mixed with psych guitar pulses (“LT”) and nasty – in the best possible way – modern grooves (“Nosotros” and “Let Me Be” Ft. Tomar Williams). This is a thirteen track treasure.
Grupo Fantasma’s American Music Vol. VII, at face value, is a, nearly, two-decade culmination of some very talented musicians. If all you care about is face value, I have a wall to sell you. Spending time with this record will put a smile on your face, a slide in your step, a shake in your hip, and a greater appreciation for what makes America tick. American Music Vol. VII is a wonderful array of cultural success that knows no borders; as it should be with art.
Greg is a co-founder and regular contributor of Nanobot Rock