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Rita Indiana And Los Mysterios "El Juidero" Reviewed

I am coming to this album late, El Juidero was released last October, but if you haven't heard Rita Indiana Y Los Mysterios El Juidero, you are missing on a major Merengue star and a sound I am far from the first to commend as the future of Merengue -surely the most thrilling Latin American music of all.

Rota Indiana is the six foot Dominican Republic singer who blew away Central Park's Summerstage a couple of weeks ago. On stage with her back up band and back her singers  and back up dancers she is a high dance quotient alt Dom Dominator: an imposing figure who channels both Patti Smith and Millie Quisada, only with a strong, transgressive lesbian edginess. It was fascinating and brilliant.

The album is just as good. It moves on its Tom Tom's from one end to the other, and that Merengue rhythm is the one complete constant, though at times  the guitar is vibrant and stronger, and despite two excellent dance numbers, "Da Pa Lo Do" and " El Blue del Ping Pong", it is not a straight up Merengue album.

Rita is a novelist in her other job (she has a new Spanish language novel about to be published) and I have read one song is about advising immigrants in rickety boats to return to DR. Which leads me to believe that if I knew what she was singing about, it would not be the disappointment of Elvis Crespo's "Wow Flash".

To the sides of this there are two Spanish language covers of English language classics, "Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This" is giving the haunting feel it deserves on "Dulces Sonos" -everything seems to slap away at it, the tomtoms and especially the keyboards which sound like a synth on the break. It implies something, maybe something I don't understand, something cultural.

The other English language cover is "Gloria" and it is the flat out masterpiece on the album. "Equibol" is a 15 minute, delve into female sexuality. It is a melodic dream reworking of Van Morrison's frustrated  horniness and it speeds towards her own "oooh she looked so good…".  Later, it sounds more like the Feelies than Grupo Mania.I wish the song was longer. It presumes so much to me but I appreciate it all.

The other 6 songs are a mix of indie rock interruptions that space out on the beat with the drums, even more than Rita's vocals, is the sound of El Juidero. If I understand correctly,  an escape to Puero Rico, and in "LA Hora de Volve" a purer Merengue sound. This is the one where she suggest migrants reverse their boats and return to DR -according to the Daily News.

The song is very nervous, it is jerky, which Merengue really isn't, but it works very well.

If this is the future of Merengue count me in.

Grade: A

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