"By the middle of next year we'll probably be the biggest Latin rock label in the United States," says Jeffrey Kaye, Luaka Bop's publicity director. "And it's a huge mistake to think that Latins are the only audience for this music."
Kaye reports that the audience for Bloque's shows has been a pretty even mix of long-time Latin rock fans, particularly Colombians, and inquisitive non-Latins from everywhere. The members of Bloque describe their dance-inducing style as "psychotropical," an insistent assault of funky grooves, pounding percussion, Latin dance rhythms, and acid and Afro guitars, accompanied by street-style chanting of often apocalyptic lyrics. While Mana has adhered to the traditional patterns of American rock and Latin folkloric music to create a cross-cultural mainstream sound, Bloque's Latin rock fusion is a snarled concoction of underground soul.
Bloque's self-titled debut album will be released in the United States this week, but it has already received fervent reviews from rock critics.
"We're pushing it to everybody, and everybody's picking it up," says Kaye, citing enthusiastic writeups in the the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. "They're not categorizing it as a Latin rock album; they're finding it to be just a rock album."
Well they should. As a leader in the movement and by appealing to the cultural roots of U.S. Hispanics, Mana has consecrated rock in Spanish as a force to be reckoned with beyond the borders of Latin America. Meanwhile Bloque, like other young Latin American bands, is communicating with a new non-Latin audience here through the language of music.