[CD Review] Pacha Massive, 'If You Want It' (Nacional)

As the group are based in New York, it makes sense that Pacha Massive have made their musical mark by mixing the genres of a city that’s a true global center. The then-duo of Dominican-born Ramon Nova and Colombian cohort Maya Martinez debuted to critical acclaim with All Good Things, introducing the world to their irresistible, bilingual blend of dub, electronica and Latin rhythms. Their sophomore effort, If You Want It, follows in the same sonic blueprint—only this time without Martinez.

Nova, far from riding solo on the effort, calls upon a number of female vocalists to lend their talents to his arrangements. As much of the lyrics of If You Want It center on the interplay of the sexes, the vocals tend toward the smooth and sultry, which works well within the tracks but leaves listeners wondering where more dynamism would lead.

Pacha Massive’s new offerings steadily ride along relaxed vibes that are ultimately danceable. Dub is most pronounced on “Just Want to See Ya,” on which Nova alternates among Spanish, English and Spanglish. The most identifiably Latin-influenced song, “For a While,” immediately commands the hips to sway. Not resorting to fillers to complete its track listing, the album actually gains momentum in its final songs. “To the Top” is a proper groove accentuated by baritone sax and the breathy vocals of Yasi Baby, and the instrumental “Two Step” recalls fellow New York-based fusionistas Si*Se with its rapid snare hits and sounds of island paradise. Though Martinez’s absence as a writer and bassist is noticeable, enough tunes from If You Want It maintain the laid-back-yet-accomplished feel Pacha Massive fans expect.

 
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