Chris Blackwell’s Palm Pictures Label, 3am: In Beats We Trust

Chris Blackwell

True to its intention to bring the finest contemporary World Music to fans around the world, here Chris Blackwell’s Palm Pictures label has excelled itself with the release of the latest Sidestepper album, ‘3am: In Beats We Trust’.

Sidestepper is actually the nom-de-plume adopted by Richard Blair, a noted music producer from England who found himself caught up in the emerging music scene in Colombia while working as an on-location producer for Peter Gabriel’s Real World label.

His short stay extended into three years during which time his love for Colombian music, and his growing musical affinity with the local musicians, found him producing work that reflected his new-found musical passion. Blair first released the ‘Logozo’ EP in 1997 and later his full debut LP, ‘More Grip’, both of which featured his innovative mix of Salsa with UK drum-and-bass, and both of which saw him setting new standards and directions for Latin electronica.

This latest Sidestepper album, ‘3am: In Beats We Trust’, furthers Richard Blair’s Latin music excursions, on this occasion with the aid of an eight-person Colombian band. The music is composed by bandleader Ivan Benavides, and all the tracks are underpinned by some deep bass sounds and a mix of electronic percussion and acoustic drums, creating an addictive swirl of sound that moves from the original Colombian Salsa influences to some hot Jamacian dub workouts.

Blair even brought in U.K. jungle MC Rubi Dan to work on the two English tracks on the album, ‘In the Beats We Trust’, and ‘Walking’. These sit alongside other album highlights like the tracks ‘Aunque Me Duela la Vida’ and ‘Dame Tu Querer’, which best encapsulate the wonderful fusion of sounds and styles on this infectious album.

‘3am: In Beats We Trust’ is yet another in a long list of new albums that has successfully merged different styles of music from around the world to create a fresh new World sound. Put your palms together for the Mr. Blair from England that it is okay to like!

Stephen Segerman