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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bwana, Nicaragua

Bwana - s/t. 1972 Caytronics.

You can practically count the number of great progressive / psych albums from Nicaragua on one finger. And here it is. But their sole representative isn't only good, it's nothing short of amazing. I suppose it comes as no surprise that the major influence here is Santana. In particular the first two albums. The organ tones are not as heavy (I don't think it's a Hammond either) and the guitarist doesn't have near the chops as Carlos (though he's no slouch either). And while vocals exist on Bwana, they aren't key to the sound. And when it's time to get indigenous, they naturally raise the sounds of pre-Colombian South America versus Mexico. So at this point you may be thinking we have a watered down version of "Abraxas", but that's not the case at all. Where Bwana gains ground is in their use of percussion, which is more varied and is also a feature rather than an accent. There's also a tribal voodoo element going on throughout, making me wish I knew of other groups coming out of Nicaragua during this era. Six long tracks, totalling over 45 minutes, and not a dud amongst them.

For years it was presumed Bwana were from Colombia, but some of the members of the band have resurfaced and it turns out they were from Nicaragua. Some band members still live there - while others are in the United States now.

A couple of bootlegs exist, though it appears some labels are looking to do a legit issue.

The original cover art is pretty tacky, though I doubt it was meant to be offensive, given the time and place. It would be nice, however, if new cover art was added (similar to the original, but dubious, Acid Symposium CD).

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