DJ Platurn’s Siete Galaxias, Volume 1, a mixtape of 7-inch rarities from Texas, California, and Central and South America
by Allen Thayer
“An 80-minute all-45 excursion into a random array of Latin-flavored grooves from diggin’ in Texas, the West Coast of California, and Central & South America. Eerie melodies, funky drums, and oddball covers permeate the mix—at times deep but mostly just a bunch of random 7-inch faves, sung primarily in various Portuguese & Spanish dialects. Enjoy the trip!
Dedicated to the memory of Telmo Arrue Castro & Joe Henry Perez”
Like some of the most inspired projects, DJ Platurn didn’t know what to do with the songs found on this mix when they first landed in his lap. Platurn’s a hip-hop DJ with deep crates extending well beyond party-rocking classics and his legendary Native Tongues tributes; so when his wife’s Peruvian uncle, Telmo Arrue Castro, blessed him with a stack of twenty-five local and regional singles, he knew they were special. But like hundreds of cool, weird, and groovy records, they languished for a time in the deep space of Platurn’s Bay Area studio.
A couple years earlier on a trip to the Texas borderlands, Platurn hooked up with a buddy, Corpus Cristi’s DJ DUS, who sold him a grip of singles, most of which came from his uncle Joe’s collection. Joe Henry Perez lived in the small town of Beeville, Texas, but loved to travel especially to Brazil and throughout Latin America buying records and digging in the crates. Back in Platurn’s studio in the Bay Area, the jewels of these two uncles’ collections came together alongside nearly a lifetime of Latin oro excavated from digging trips up and down Califas.
Make no mistake, DJ Platurn is not a collector of Latin music per se, but as a digger of all things groove-based, he panned for funky gold, excavating dramatic intros, persuasive percussion, funky breaks, ethereal vocals, and rare grooves from stacks of 45s, whittling them down to an 80-minute mix. In today’s climate when most classic breaks are easily downloadable and available on discogs.com, the type of digging that Platurn’s put in to assemble Siete Galaxias, Volume 1 reminds me of the earlier days of digging when 90% of a mixtape’s songs were totally unknown, and diggers relied more on gut instinct for a break or a groove more than the current price on popsike.com.
For fans of Latin and Brazilian rock, you’ll notice some familiar tunes from Los Ángeles Negros and Roberto Carlos, respectively. While some songs, like Edson Show Santa Cruz’s “Pelos Caminos Da Vida,” is new to this self-proclaimed Brazilian disco obsessive, others, like Little Joe, Johnny & La Familia’s “Schlitz Makes It Great,” show that Platurn’s having fun and doesn’t take himself too seriously with the song’s goofy ’70s suds vibe. The Peruvian cover of Chic’s “Le Freak” is raw and a bit too close to the original, much like their choice of band name, Chick, while the mysterious Spanish-language cover of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” breathes some Latin rhythms and sabor into this over-anthologized disco drama.
If you’ve ever heard a DJ Platurn mix, you should already know he’s really gonna freak it, like he did for both volumes of his De La Soul tribute mixes: So This Is De La Heaven, but this mix makes most other mixes sound too obvious or academic. A concept started coming together around a Spanish language Star Wars story record that he would use to weave together 43 unique tunes for a multilingual, multi-genre journey through groovy, funky, soulful, mysterious, and downright wacky Latin pop music from the ’60s and the ’70s. Sure, there are breaks doubled-up and some excellent mixing as you should expect from Platurn, but this is no “Latin funk” mix. Think of it more as the bizarro-Latino version of the wildly popular Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, which is made of up of songs from the ’60s and the ’70s, albeit great ones, that seemingly shared just one thing in common, which is they’ve already featured prominently in other memorable movie soundtracks.
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