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POP MUSIC REVIEW

El Gran Silencio lets emotions rule the day

July 31, 2003|Ernesto Lechner | Special to The Times

An overzealous critic might complain that El Gran Silencio is in need of some songwriting lessons, and that the band's coarse blend of Colombian vallenato and various hip-hop idioms can become repetitive after a while.

And yet the quintet from Monterrey, Mexico, offers one of the most joyous and compelling live shows in Latin music, a memorable celebration of everything that is worth celebrating about the combustible rock en espanol movement.

How do they do it?

Here's a clue: On Tuesday at the House of Blues, the band emphasized the kind of bare-it-all emotional openness that marks quality Mexican music of every genre.

Beginning with a rollicking trilogy of "Sound System Municipal," "Cumbia Lunera" and "El Retorno de los Chuntaros," El Gran Silencio launched an unstoppable sonic attack that more than made up for the loose structure of its songs. The band's eccentric musical recipe brings together chunks of hip-hop, reggae, norteno, cumbia and space-rock, then attempts to unify them all through the nostalgic licks of an accordion.

Boosted to a 10-piece unit, the band has incorporated the basic configuration of an Afro-Caribbean orchestra, with brass and percussion sections. As a result, it is able to effortlessly move into rap and rock territories, while at the same time drawing from the richness of a Latin band. Therein lies the distinctive beauty of rock en espanol.

*

El Gran Silencio

Where: JC Fandango, 1086 N. State College Blvd., Anaheim

When: Today, 8 p.m.

Price: $30

Info: (714) 758-1057

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