Auntie Flo & Esa – Highlife World Series – Cuba

Release Date: February 20, 2015
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Album Review

This is the first in a series of EPs on the Huntleys + Palmers offshoot Highlife that will showcase music Brian D'Souza, AKA Auntie Flo, and Esa Williams produce with local musicians on their world travels. Uganda and Kenya editions will appear in the near future, but Cuba begins the series with two tracks each from D'Souza and Williams, recorded while the pair were in the country to play the inaugural Havana World Music Festival last February.

D'Souza kicks things off in familiar style with "Die Bailando," a 13-minute showcase for the earthy Spanish vocals of Eric Alejandro. A simple and soulful interweaving of voice, drums and trumpet, its meanderings epitomise the improvisational atmosphere of the EP. D'Souza's other track, "Mother Theresa," has an instrumental lullaby feel, its gentle keys joined by soothing trumpets. Esa's "Sabela De Cuba (Afro Synth Mix)" tips things into a higher gear, and is the track that should be of most interest to DJs. He nails a trick that will be familiar to anyone who heard his work on Highlife Edits Vol.3 last year: effortlessly marrying world-music vocals with lush European house instrumentation. The short, instrumental "Vitrales"—a clip-clopping amalgam of groaning bass and chimes—is a gentle little curio, while a radio edit of "Die Bailando" ends a package that promises much for the future.

- Resident Advisor