Pachanga Latin Music Festival 2011: Echocentrics

Before the Echocentrics' debut at South by Southwest this year, the entire band had never been in the same room together. Face time doesn't come easy when band members hail from Brazil, Brooklyn and Austin.

So when the Echocentrics performed live for the first time after only one rehearsal with all its members, bandleader and producer Adrian Quesada had no idea what to expect or how the audience would respond.

"It's hard to judge from the first show, but it was a special start," said Austin-based Quesada.

Festivalgoers agreed, and the band's performance earned some rave reviews. The Echocentrics — a soulful funk band with a psychedelic twist — return to the stage Saturday at the Pachanga Latin Music Festival.

The band is the latest project from Grammy-award winning musician-producer Quesada, best known as co-founder of the bands Grupo Fantasma, Brownout and Ocote Soul Sounds.

The band's first album, "Sunshadows," was released last month and reached the top spot on KUT's weekly list of most-played records.

"Sunshadows" has been about five years in the making. Quesada began writing the music years ago and now has about 50 sketches of funky and psychedelic soul songs, largely influenced by the musical era that he gravitates to the most — 1960s and early 1970s. Working on this project, he says, was simply an excuse to make music that he would personally like to hear.

After years of writing, letting the dust settle and picking up the project once again, the first time he heard the instrumentals come together he thought, "Oh, my God, this is what I heard in my head."

Though Quesada initially worked on the project mostly alone, it's his collaboration with the sensual and smooth vocals of Argentine singer Natalia Clavier and Brazil-based Tita Lima that breathes life into to the cinematic grooves.

Quesada searched awhile for a vocalist who would mesh with this laid-back musical style. Friends and label mates recommended Clavier and Lima, who brought their own musical edge to the project. Lima's avant garde-tinged vocals come from her childhood influences. She's the daughter of Liminha, bass player for Os Mutantes, a Brazilian psychedelic rock band. And Clavier's classy and soothing voice is also featured in the upcoming Ocote Soul Sounds album, which the group describes as "folktronic funklore."

To make this long-distance project work, Quesada emailed instrumentals to Lima and Clavier and they sent their vocals to him. Nowadays, he says, most musicians have low-budget ways to send music that makes the process easier, though there are some hurdles.

"I have a very particular way I like to record, so not having control of that was challenging," Quesada said. "You can't beat that face-to-face time, but I am happy with the way it turned out."

The Echocentrics blend Portuguese, English and Spanish lyrics into their songs, which have a multicultural flavor that comes pretty natural to Quesada, who grew up in the border town of Laredo.

The fluidity of languages between border towns makes it common to hear someone speak English and hear Spanish in return.

"I grew up like that, so when I hear (music) in Spanish, I don't immediately peg it as Latin," he said. "It's more about the music than the lyrics or language."

The Echocentrics, 7:50-8:50 p.m., Pavilion stage

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