The velvety Latin underground

Somewhere, in some music rag, some writer described Aterciopelados as “trip-hopping” its way through its music.

For anyone who suffers narcopelpsy at the mere mention of the phrase “trip-hop” — nightmares of Portishead dancing in our heads! — worry not.

Oh sure, Aterciopelados’ music is heavy on the special effects, and most of the group’s song range from slow mid-tempo to slightly faster mid-tempo. But the last thing they are is lethargic.

Aterciopelados translates to “the Velvety Ones,” and it’s an appropriate moniker.

The band’s music is indeed propelled by the usual trip-hop/hip-hop beats, but rather than let them thunder like a superslick dance album, the Velvet Ones make them rumble instead. The result — music that makes you want to dance and chill at the same time.

Like some of its best contemporaries in the Genre Formerly Known as Rock en Español Now Unfortunately Called Latin Alternative, Aterciopelados infuses its brand of, ahem, “trip-hop” with definite Latin music influences.

A slowed-down Latin rhythm here (“El estuche”, “El desinflar de tu cariño”), accordions and trumpets there (“Maligno” and “El estuche,” respectively) — there’s no mistake from which American continent this music originates.

And the marvelous glue which holds all these disparate elements together is Andrea Echeverri’s rich alto. Her easy-going delivery suits Aterciopelados’ contradictory moods. Do you dance or do you take a drag from that reefer?

Probably both. Caribe Atomico suits either purpose well.