Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Tao of Funkahuatl

One part tantric medicine man, one part Boyle Heights barrio advocate, one part broken-hearted love poet, one part rock star lover boy, one part visionary producer and one part life-long political and social activist, Rubén Guevara would squirm if he heard himself referred to this way. He might roll his eyes and say “come on, now, that’s too many parts.”

For Guevara, whose alter ego as Funkahuatl—the Aztec God of Funk—resurfaces on vinyl here with a definitive musical masterwork entitled The Tao of Funkahuatl, life and its lessons are to be savored as tantalizing experiences that reveal the paths to divinity. The sacred, as expressed in his first new album in over 30 years, is sexual, sensual, loving and tender. It is platonic and political. It is deeply rooted in community.

His new disc distills a lifetime of lovemaking and learning, of memory and mysticism. Backed by an arsenal of musical giants as legendary as Guevara himself, Funkahuatl once again jumps and turns with the fever pitch and whispers of trance-like storytelling.

The Tao is a come hither and dance with me, a shake rattle and roll from your hips clarion. For Guevara, the spirit of Funkahuatl redeems and purifies each of us with a soul throttling release that is captured here on a record that comes dressed in stunning sleeve art by John Valadez and a calligraphic package designed by Joel “Rage One” García.

With the collector’s record, an album complete with a fine art, limited edition lithograph printed by Francesco X. Siqueiros at El Nopal Press, Guevara restores vinyl to its original luster. And while the presentation is positively mouthwatering, it is finally the music and the voice that take shape and flight on the eight compositions that lace themselves together as The Tao of Funkahuatl which define the core of Guevara’s latest offering at the altar of joy, love and triumph.

It is no accident that he is joined by sidemen collectively known as the Eastside Luvers, among them: Steve Alaniz (tenor sax); John Avila (bass); Ramón Banda (drums) and Bob Robles (guitar). With the Luvers, Guevara bridges spoken word, funk, rhythm and blues. He scatters words, poetry, chord progressions, harmonies, brass, wind, fretwork, bass lines and percussion across the auditory spectrum in a steady torrent as if seeding the clouds with invitations to sacred gathering of song on LA’s Eastside.

Catch the upcoming issue of Brooklyn & Boyle for the complete review by Abel Salas

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