LOS CHICHARONNS

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Ramon Santana and Morten Varano make up the unlikely partnership that is Los Chicharrons.They are both musicians, DJs and producers but their backgrounds couldn't be more different

Ramon was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up within earshot of the voodoo drums of Haiti (the birthplace of real trance). Relocating to Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the mid '60s, he gradually steered a course towards Corona, Queens, where a period of a rich musical development began. In the early '80s Ramon's DJing progressed apace, with regular shows in Dancetaria (where Mantronix were resident) leading to the inception of a club called Boomba Makao, operating out of three NYC venues: Giant Steps, The Soul Kitchen and Great Jones.

Morten Varano's background as a graduated psychologist from the university of Copenhagen is something of a contrast to his musical spar. Born in Copenhagen, he started playing piano at age 6, and at 14 began
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Thanks to snobb for the addition and JS, Matt for the updates

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LOS CHICHARONNS Discography

LOS CHICHARONNS albums / top albums

LOS CHICHARONNS Conga Heaven, Bongo Hell album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Conga Heaven, Bongo Hell
World Fusion 1999
LOS CHICHARONNS Blow For Me Blow For You album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Blow For Me Blow For You
World Fusion 2001
LOS CHICHARONNS When The Sun Goes Down album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
When The Sun Goes Down
World Fusion 2003
LOS CHICHARONNS Roots Of Life album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Roots Of Life
World Fusion 2011

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LOS CHICHARONNS Reviews

LOS CHICHARONNS Roots Of Life

Album · 2011 · World Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Matt
Ramon Santana and Morten Varano comprise the electronic DJ dou that are Los Chicharrons. Ramon is no relation to Carlos but he does hail from the Dominican Republic although he has resided in New York since the mid sixties and one thing he sure has kept that Carribean beat and rythmn behind him. The other half is Morten Varano who has actually been to university over in Denmark and graduated a psychologist but piano was where he started in music and took up a liking for clubs and that is where he ran into Ramon over in his home town Copenhagen and Los Chicharons was the outcome. Electronic or programming is the underpin to this production with even the odd House and Jungle rythmn employed but do not think that this as just another dance album because there are plenty of real musicians adding input with a mix of West African or Mali to be precise as well with a few Europeans providing brass and percussion. The African section which was put down in Bamako is primarily Wassoulou styled with the vocal work by Mama Draba and Saramba Koyate' with Nampe Sadio doing backing vocals. The one African musician is Tom Diakte' who provides the kora and balafon. The Europeans provide flute, saxophone, trumpet ( Lars Vissing), guitar, percussion and keyboards are played by Morten Varano as well as doing the programming with Ramon Santana and for my money at a guess I would say Ramon handles the beats and rthymns primarily in this duo. There is some Afro Beat contained within as well with the addition of some nice grooves which keeps things interesting throughout and if you think that the electronics rule do not fear the instruments are just as much at the front with some great solos provided from the Danish members. I would like to add that it was the Danish Musicians Union who actually sponsered the albums production.

'Kounandi" is the albums starter with the balafon and a little kora added by overdub but heavy bass is what kicks in with programming and percussion over this fairly fast rythmn with Mama Dramba's vocals in that great Malian Wassoulou area style over the top. Flute is the instrument providing a great feel as well with a lovely solo over that beat to finish the song. "Saramba's Song" is obviously wriiten for the vocalist of this number, Sarmba Koyate' with some great crunchy guitar and a bit of Afro Beat thrown in to this one which just motors along beautifully with a wicked trumpet solo from Lars Vissing. There are tracks on the album where the Africans are not present as with the title "Roots Of Life" with just the two DJs, Ramon and Morton, who also is adding the keyboards. Did they forget to add the flute player in the album notes for the title tune or is it electronic wizardry but no matter that sound is right throughout and it does sound a bit to breathy to be electronic but the jungle rythmn just seems a bit too much at times. "Ma Do Nar" is next which also gets the re mix treatment as the album closer but here in its original it is one the albums highlights with the Malian chorus behind Saramba Koyate' and actually we get a bit of latin piano injected over this great little thumper of an African tune with also the addition of one great little percussion solo throughout as the horns just keep kicking in, on this sublime little rocker. More Afro beat for "Koko" and then "Equal Opportunity" which you would think would be straight Afro Beat as it was the name of a Fela Kuti tune bit it is Malian primarily over the beats again and does not gel for me. One other of the albums highlights would be the drive from the ninth track "Kanafo" which starts with a great little kora intro and I always love hearing kora played over a great beat ala Mory Kante and Tom does comes close to Mory here with some great picking. We also have the addition of more great vocals from Mama Draba. The actual last track not counting the remix is "Mali Brass" and a lovely little laid back number is what is contained with some beautiful trumpet played by Lars Vissing but those beats when they do come to the fore midstream are just a little heavy but the time stays the same for Lars on this dreamy closer.

There are a few tracks that just don't seem to grip such as "Timbuktu" which just gets over blown ,"Equal Opportunity" and the title "Roots of Life" which I mentioned above. Interesting and fairly diverse album all played extremly well but I have heard this style of fusion with Malian music done before such as The Frikyiwa series which first arrived eleven years ago. I will give Los Chicharrons their due though and that is they have some great European Jazz musicians contributing which does give it a slight difference and it has been a while since I have heard this style of fusion done. Enjoyable album and one that is worth getting especially if you are new to this style of music.

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