Ozomatli - Street Signs - Review
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critics' view

In this age of disillusioning politics, my vote goes to the Ozomatli street party. There's no other group that can mix the incongruent ingredients of lyrical defiance, global dance beats, hip-hop attitude and pop hooks so convincingly and explosively.

On their third full-length album to date, the outspoken Los Angelianos have not only expressed their political convictions in text, but have also implied them in their music, marrying their characteristic hard-edged Latino beats for the first time with North African and Arab music. The result is Ozomatli's lushest album to date.

There's a sea of melancholic strings, deep enough to drown in, a tide of tumbling rhythms, and sharp samples that sit at odd angles to create a dizzying tension. Ozomatli seem to have cracked that secret to merging the simple with the sophisticated. Their choruses are charming sing-along rhymes that will repeat themselves endlessly in your head after only one listening. The lyrics are rallying cries to save the world and guard hope, and the musical canvas is rich and luscious and drips with deft mixology.

To perfect their clever craftmanship, the multi-skilled Ozomatli combo has invited a host of stellar guests. Eddie Palmieri works his piano on "Nadie Te Tira", Jurassic 5 MC Chali 2na adds his bass-heavy rapping to the trancy gnawa backing of "Who's to Blame", and Moroccan master musician Hassan Hakmoun graces the elevating "Believe" with his instrumental skills. It's a feast for the ears and a party for the feet.

Katharina Lobeck
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The BBC's album reviews ended in 2013, although the pages are archived for retrospective reading.
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