The Austin, TX-based Grupo Fantasma has developed a reputation as being one of the preeminent, independent Latin bands over the past decade, and they are (quite sadly) among a group of unheralded funk bands, despite the fact that the band has been a multiple Grammy-nominated band, and won a Grammy for their 2011 effort, El Existential. They’ve also developed a reputation for some rather interesting live and recorded collaborations including with the fantastic Gina Chavez, and backing the GZA for a Latin funk tinged rendition of his Liquid Swords album.
Interestingly enough, perhaps because of the finances behind being a large band — the band has at least 10 full-time members — the members of the band occasionally split off into a variety of side projects, including reportedly a Turkish pop act (or so a big fan of the band told me while at Brooklyn Bowl), and Brownout, a funk and rock-based act that has kind of become, for all intents and purposes, an independent unit of it’s own. And as Brownout, the band has recently been touring with a unique concept — they play a set of their original jam-based Latin funk compositions, followed by a set of Black Sabbath tunes, re-arranged and re-imagined with Latin funk in mind. So imagine some of your favorite Black Sabbath tunes with horns, congas and the like. Yeah, seriously. And it’s honestly pretty fucking awesome, as it adds an unexpected nuance and a different interpretation on songs that have long been familiar – without ruining the song’s intent and spirit (which is extremely difficult).
As a teaser for Brownout’s full-length Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath, which Ubiquity Records will release on June 24, both the band and their label will be releasing an incredible collaboration with fellow Austin, TX resident, Alex Maas, lead vocalist of the psych rock band, the Black Angels (one of my favorite bands I have to admit) for a psychedelic and funked out rendition of Black Sabbath’s “The Hand of Doom” that manages to retain the original song’s sense of dread and doom – and it kicks ass.