Will Hermes
May 09, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

3am (in beats we trust)

Current Status
In Season

We gave it a B+

3am opens with a dubby three-chord piano phrase suggesting the head-melt builds of tech-house DJs like Layo & Bushwacka! and Mr. C. But instead of a synth-drum vortex, the track blooms into a Cuban dub session with delicate call-and-response vocals and a burbling trombone solo. It’s but one bodega in a strange, beautiful, borderless town mapped by itinerant U.K. producer Richard Blair and Colombian fusionist Ivan Benavides of Bloque, proving some of the only fertile ground in the stagnant dance-music scene is on the inter-ethnic front. Yerba Buena are a next-generation New York City salsa outfit down with old-school boogaloo, hip-hop, and downtown art-funk. The rapping is a little weak in spots, but the grooves are calibrated for both Johnny Pacheco fans and their break-dancing kids. FUSION CUISINE Fans of pan-cultural gumbos should also check out the Malian down-tempo jams on Electro Bamako (Palm). 3am: A- Alien: B+

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