Issac Delgado has seen the future of tropical music. And the future, he suggests, has a blinding sort of beauty to it.
The Cuban singer ignited the capacity crowd at the Conga Room on Thursday with an eclectic style that goes beyond the genre's established definitions. To say that his music belongs to the controversial Cuban movement known as timba would be a narrow view.
True, most of his material betrays the timba influence in its excessive use of syncopated breaks, faster-than-lightning piano lines and violently propulsive choruses. After all, his career began with NG La Banda, timba's most electrifying and visionary outfit.
If anything, however, Delgado used Thursday's show to demonstrate his determination to go beyond the confines of a specific style. Liberated from creative restraints and free to find inspiration in any format of popular music he deems interesting, he has attained superior artistry.
This thirst for experimentation was particularly apparent in the songs from "La Formula," Delgado's new album. The contemplative beginning of "El Solar de la California," for instance, took the listener to nueva trova territory, with vague echoes of progressive Cuban troubadour Pablo Milanes.
Other, similarly quiet interludes made the subsequent rhythmic frenzy all the more enjoyable.
Too bad Delgado approached all this with a cooler-than-cool attitude.
Although he was clearly possessed by the infectious spirit of the rumba during the dizzyingly kinetic "El Pregon del Chocolate," most of the time he appeared slightly detached and laid-back, an odd stance given the passionate fury of his seamless 14-piece band.