Señor Coconut

Here's a fun little thing any fan of electronic and/or latin music should check out from the Pima County Public Library:

El Baile Alemán by Señor Coconut y Su Conjunto

Señor Coconut is a German electronic musician who, after some success in the '90s under the moniker Atom Heart (his real name is Uwe Schmidt), moved to Chile. In Santiago he's remade himself, churning out warped covers of other people's songs, transforming them into electro-latin fusions. His best CD as Señor Coconut has to be El Baile Alemán, where he takes on the music of Kraftwerk, the seminal German electronic act of the 1970s and later. Señor Coconut offers renditions of Kraftwerk tunes which are faithful to both the traditions of latin music styles (such cumbia, merengue and salsa), as well as to the pre-techno originals by the German band.

One of Kraftwerk's best-known songs, "Autobahn," which in its original form is a 20 minute classic of early experimental electronic music, here gets a gentle cumbia treatment. Señor Coconut's version is more for cruising in the slow lane, with its sweetly floating harmonies and lightly paced groove. Two of my personal favorites from Kraftwerk's catalog, "Showroom Dummies" and "The Robots," are here reworked into electronic cha-cha-cha styled dance tracks. These covers lose nothing of the original songs' appeal, and if anything the light touch of humanity clothing the electronic skeletons of these songs makes for a much more interesting dramatic contrast, where the latin groove fits into the original German techno structure effortlessly. One additional highlight worth mentioning is Señor Coconut's rework of "Tour De France," a harder-edged dance tune Kraftwerk released back in the early 1980s which is marked by the exhausted panting of bicyclists set to a techno beat. The Conjunto here makes "Tour De France" into a fevered merengue dash, with lush splashes of vibraphone alternating with the even-more-breathless-than-before bicyclists.

Place a hold and take your techno south today!