*Download ‘La Chimera’ from the EP free above!*
It’s a tropical night. You hear the sound of congas and bongos, brass sections and chorus vocals. It’s a toe-tapping hip-rolling mambo and that cowbell is ringing and the bass is bouncing and while it’s a familiar sound, something seems different this time.
San Lazaro’s unique take on Latin music is a blend of old school salsa and classic Cuban Son. Beyond that, it references everything from psych funk to roots reggae to Spaghetti Western film soundtracks. It’s raw, noisy and electric one moment and sweet and soulful the next. They sound like no one else, and maybe that’s because San Lazaro come from an unexpected corner of the world: Melbourne, Australia. How did the continent of kangaroos and deserts come to contribute such arresting Spanish language songwriting and dazzling musicianship? “It’s all about Serendipity,” according to San Lazaro’s lead singer, Keko Viran. Serendipity is also, appropriately, the name of San Lazaro’s new five track vinyl EP.
Featuring musicians with backgrounds from Chile to India to Cuba to Outback Australia, San Lazaro is an all singing, all dancing tower of Babel. They cut their teeth on the standards of salsa and mambo, and are respectful inheritors of those traditions, but now stand alone as providers of a truly individual Latin sound.
It was chance that brought the band together, and certainly it was an amazing twist of fortune that this release ever occurred. The band started recording this project in 2008, started again in 2010, and started again, again, (this time for real) in 2013.
After all the trials and tribulations that have brought them this far, 2014 might even be San Lazaro’s year.