Latin rock veteran Pepe Alva and his band Alma Raymi ("soul celebration" in Quechuan) spent much of the past year in the studio, working on the follow-up album to 1997's Pa' Mostrarte Mi Amor (MATT Entertainment). With a new disc tentatively titled Comprometida (Engaged), Alva makes a bid for the big time, hiring top-flight producers and stellar New York session musicians to bolster his local six-piece ensemble. On Comprometida the rock-and-Andean-rhythm fusion Alva and his brother Carlos have experimented with since 1990 is carried into the mainstream. "Our music has a little more attitude now," Alva says. "At the same time, it's a little more commercial." While many of Alva's tunes could be anybody's altrock, other songs emanate a distinctive sound thanks to Peruvian instruments such as the quena, the Andean flute; charango, the world's smallest guitar; and zampoña, bamboo panpipes, which the Incas used as a form of communication. Listen for the new songs at Latin-rock hot spots the Grill and Club Millennium.
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