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First Listen: Tremor, 'Proa'

NPR icon by Felix Contreras

A while back, I found myself weary of hearing music played in 4/4 time, with the snare hitting on the 2 and 4. For relief, I dug deeper into an existing passion for Afro-Cuban music — and, during that journey, discovered the Argentine trio Tremor.

Tremor creates a mash-up of South American traditions and electronic music. Its new album Proa, out Sept. 3, offers a fascinating exploration into a sound that bleeps, echoes, thumps and dances.

The group describes its sound as "digital folklorico." Tremor's music shimmers with a misty studio sheen of analog synthesizers, recording-studio gizmos and gadgets over rhythm tracks of cumbia, Argentine chacarera and Andean bombo drums. Its members sprinkle melodies of their own creation atop all that sonic density with an Andean simplicity that sounds both new and familiar.

Some of the vocal tracks give away sources of inspiration. But my favorite song here, "Huella," features a vocal by Micaela Chauque that could be centuries old and from some unnamed culture in an undetermined part of the world. Listening is a haunting experience that ought to have you tapping your foot while you ponder life's wonders.

Proa is that kind of album, and Tremor is that kind of band, with an ambitious musical vision that taps into listeners' own sense of adventure. But be forewarned: Soon, an ordinary snare hit on 2 and 4 may not be enough for you anymore.

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