Listening to Monsieur Periné's new album, Encanto Tropical, invites a dreamlike ecstasy that goes far beyond what its title suggests. It's not just that the tropics-as imagined by this Colombian jazz-Latin-pop fusion band-is an enchanting sun-splashed escape. From the album's first single, the exquisitely languid "Bailar Contigo," the music's wild mix is a search for cultural identity, its songs filled with the memories, poetry, and humanity of tropical people looking for a little bit of paradise.
"This is a record that's very immersed in the tropics and its contrasts," said Catalina García, the band's lead singer. "It's a record that has a strong presence of those cultures that have been the roots for us: Africa, indigenous America, and of course Europe. It's our way of looking inward and discovering our tropics."
Encanto Tropical culminates the evolution of Monsieur Periné's sound from acoustic Django Reinhart-inspired Gyspy-Jazz to hybrid electronica Latinx groove pop that won a Latin Grammy for "Best New Artist" in 2015. Formed by García and principal collaborator Santiago Prieto in the Colombia colonial village of Villa de Leyva in 2007, the band played a small repertory of boleros and bossa nova tunes at weddings and parties. Their name, derived from the perineum, a vulnerable and erogenous area of the human body, was a strong indicator of their ironic theatricality. But they always wanted their audience to move and groove.
Encanto Tropical is clearly in the business of hip-shaking provocation. Yet for all its sublime alterna-tropic pop, this is an album marked by Periné's artistic maturation and dynamic collaboration with a cavalcade of contemporary Latin music stars. On the lead single "Bailar Contigo," they collaborated with Mauricio Rengifo, co-producer of last year's smash hit "Despacito."
Encanto Tropical brilliantly succeeds in telling stories. It's an album that captures a band at their creative peak and is ready to take its place in the pantheon of contemporary Latin music greats. "I feel that with this album we're like saying that after two albums we didn't fade away," said Prieto. "Now, with Colombian music being very fashionable in genres like Urban and reggaetón, we have a voice and a sound and we have created our own space."