Rupa & The April Fishes

Extraordinary Rendition

2008-04-28

One of the best things about Extraordinary Rendition (Cumbancha) by San Francisco-based Rupa and the April Fishes is that the music doesn't sound the least bit like a product of the USA. Unlike most homegrown world beat, this blend of gypsy swing, French cabaret, tango, and other styles comes across with an oddly organic charm that never seems forced. That's because American-born Rupa Marya brings the fruits of her upbringing in southern France, the US, and India, welding her wanderlust to a chanteuse persona. Peak tracks like "Plus Que Moi" (#9) are like little slices of a rousing, rollicking theatrical revue from a bygone era, full of tempo changes, mood shifts, and ungodly clatter. The pistonic throttle of "Poder" (#3) puts the ghost of Brecht-Weill in overdrive. Rupa and her Fish wriggle into not just the cleft between cultures, but also the fissure between eras. Even slow cooker "La Pecheuse" (#6), which drifts into a dreamy middle section with falsetto vocal, feels as if it's been sprinkled with nostalgia. -- Bob Tarte

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