Adrian Soiza and Dani Umpi | Dramatica

Los Años Luz (2009)
By GUSTAVO TURNER  |  August 19, 2009
3.5 3.5 Stars


Uruguay, a small nation often shadowed by neighbors Argentina and Brazil, is home to a thriving music scene that has produced some of the best performers and composers of the "southern cone" of South America. Uruguayan singer-songwriters generally excel in folk and related idioms (from the towering Zitarrosa to recent Oscar winner Jorge Drexel), often unveiling their serious, protest-song sensibilities in deep masculine voices.

Enter Dani Umpi, a young writer with bona fides in underground performance art, a gender-bending sissy with a five o'clock shadow who out of nowhere dropped the dance-pop debut Perfecto in 2005. Here he's backed by guitarist Soiza, and though his indeed perfect earlier album was like a better Fischerspooner from the actual gutter of the River Plate demi-monde, Dramatica is an acoustic homage to the musical influences of a boy growing up queer in the interior of a macho country most people can't even place on a map.

Lush nightclub covers of Ace of Base's "The Sign," the Cardigans' "Lovefool," and the Human League's "Don't You Want Me" (three proud mariconadas — fagotries — according to the outspoken liner notes by Umpi) mingle with obscure gems in Spanish and Portuguese by torch singers and new-wave acts like Fangoria and El Otro Yo. If you ever wondered what Adamski's "Killer" would sound like with Seal's part taken by a hyper-talented Latin post-raver who wears man dresses made of In Style magazine subscription cards and cigarette cartons, well, my friend, you're in luck.

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