New Audio: The Expansive and Trippy Latin Music Sounds of Melbourne, Australia’s San Lazaro

Comprised of Keko (vocals), Oscar Poncell (vocals, tiple), Robert Douglas Sola (bass), Lazaro Ernesto Pompa (bass), Lachlan McLean (sax), Jethro Negron (drums), Nick Ryan Glennie (trumpet), and Marcelo La Greca (guiro and vocals), Melbourne, Australia-based Latin music nonet San Lazaro features bandmembers, who claim heritage from all over the Spanish speaking world — including Chile, Cuba, Catalonia and elsewhere. And as a result, the Australian act have developed a reputation for a sound that draws from reggaeton, salsa, Cuban son, 70s New York salsa, 60s Peruvian cumbia and seamlessly meshes them in a way that feels and sounds both familiar and alien. In fact, the act have developed a reputation for being one of Melbourne’s preeminent Latin music acts, as the band’s 2012 release Clave contra Clave helped the band win Best Australian Latin Band, and their single “Muchacho Tranquilo” was included on the 2014 Rough Guide to Psychedelic Salsa compilation.

The band’s latest effort La Despedida (translated from Spanish to English as “The Farewell”) thematically focuses on breakups, loss, insomnia, protests and more,  and interestingly enough, the band has broken up and reconvened several times, which gives the material a deeper, more personal weight.  La Despedida’s latest single “Amor De Despedida” is a propulsive song that swoons with heartache while being a bit of a kiss of towards a partner, who the narrator is glad to see leave. But most important, the band plays with a cool, self-assuredness through a song that structurally goes through a trippy tempo change at its bridge before returning to its dance floor-ready sound.