Album Reviews

Album Review: Various Artists – Hammock House: Africa Caribe (Produced and mixed by Joaquin ‘Joe’ Clausell) (Fania Records)

By | Published on Wednesday 3 August 2011

Africa Caribe

This project sees New York ‘tropical music’ label Fania enlist house head Joe Claussell to remix a selection of tracks from the company’s back catalogue, and he’s stepped up admirably with some great moments on this compilation.

Some of the reworkings are more drastic than others. Claussell radically rejigs Celia Cruz’s trad Yoruban chant ‘Chango’ with additional percussion in from brother Jose, and neuvo piano flurries from Bennett Paster. Meanwhile, the remix of Eddie Palmieri’s 1978 energetic ‘Lucumi’ is just slightly airbrushed smooth.

The best track is Claussell’s take on Mongo Santamaria’s ‘Mambo Mongo’. It’s more of a retouch, but the results are nonetheless superb; it’s warmer, with slightly more emphasis on rhythm, but while maintaining the original infectious vibe.

There are also some brand new tracks. ‘Undeniable Love’ with Jai Veda could perhaps be see by the uninitiated as coffee table music, but it’s far more than that; Veda’s lyrics are beautiful, over a sublime chilled backdrop, with some slighty odd yet catchy yacht rock riffs thrown in. Very different is ‘Exodus’, a Ray Barretto tribute. Opening with chanting, it builds with piano and percussion to only release at seven minutes in.

An enjoyable project, it’s not earth shattering, but shows you some insight into Claussell’s influences, his profound respect for them, and his attention to detail. PV