It is with earnest regret that we announce the demise of Latin alternativers Voz de Mano, who have declared an indefinite hiatus after nearly a decade of unappreciated genius. Thankfully, however, all members are already pursuing solo projects, and the first fragment from this late, great band to record his gift is Luis Gabriel Barbosa. The Fullerton native's debut EP, Here We Belong, reveals that he offers much more than the brutal guitar blasts he used to discharge as Voz de Mano's chief axman—though he still likes to do that, too. Here We Belong finds Barbosa manipulating his muse toward various pursuits, whether the acoustic niceties of the title track, some bluesy interludes on "Wasted Away" or gentle electric strums like "Stoned." But where Barbosa truly impresses is with his production skills: he played, mixed and wrote everything on the album, including the crisp pianos, steady drums and even a sumptuous string score. Best exemplifier of this is the delicious "The Only One," a sensuous jam of jealousy with mysterious mutterings, a percussive loop that sounds like spoons clattering against a garbage pail, and a shoulder-shake-inducing dance beat; if he continues on that path, Barbosa could be California's own Cerati. And in a nod to his past, Barbosa ends with the bittersweet Voz de Mano relic "Sale el Sol." It was once a song of sadness, but now Barbosa's sinuous singing makes it a statement of personal liberation and hope for the future. A pity that it had to come to this, but at least Here We Belong is a hopeful pity.


OC and Long Beach bands and musicians! Mail your CDs and tapes (along with your vital contact info, plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only,OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-0247.

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