The atmosphere will be electric!
An experimental psychedelic salsa band will show off its diverse influences and high-tech instruments at a free show at Bric Arts Media this month. The founder of La Mecanica Popular, known for its electronic samples, says that the Feb. 28 performance will also feature a more conventional instrument — electric guitar.
“We’re going to perform our usual set but there’s going to be more guitars — two more processed guitars and lot of improvisation,” said bandleader Efrain Rozas. “I’m going to be playing, for the first time at Bric, the electric guitar, too — so that’s a new thing for our show.”
The band’s sound also draws on the psychedelic style of Peruvian cumbia dance music. But Rozas, who recently received a doctorate in electronic music from New York University, has programmed his electronics to adapt the style into a unique rhythm.
“I developed a software that is not based on western paradigms or linear vision,” he said. “I have a polyrhythmic sequencer and I’m using that to create rhythms that are influenced by Latin American music but also by experimental electronics — more influenced by psychedelic cumbia and guitars.”
The Bedford-Stuyvesant singer, keyboard player, and guitarist formed La Mecanica Popular in 2011 with four like-minded music-loving friends. He took the name from the Peruvian version of the magazine Popular Mechanics, which he collected as a child.
“I always had it in my memory,” he said. “When I thought of making this salsa band that uses the element of experimental electronics it was the perfect name.”
The band found its sound through spontaneous exploring and rehearsals, said Rozas, and over the years their various influences have come together more and more.
“I would say in terms of the improvising that develops when you play with a lot of musicians, it becomes very organic and you start to know what the person next to you is going to do and their next step,” he said. “I think the electronic sounds and salsa rhythm have blended more and more organically, so that’s the only thing that’s changed over the years.”
But the band’s unique sound has not always been embraced by audiences, said Rozas.
“Our strengths and our challenge as band is that we are different. In the salsa world we are too psychedelic and experimental, and in the experimental world we are too traditional. But think that’s our strength and what makes us unique,” he said.
La Mecánica Popular at Bric House [647 Fulton St. at Rockwell Place in Fort Greene, (718) 683–5600, www.brica