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By Ernest Barteldes

Published March 9, 2007

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In the six years since Gozo Poderoso, the last album of new Aterciopelados material (there was a greatest hits collection in 2003), fans haven’t heard much from the genre-busting Colombian rock duo formed by Andrea Echeverri and Hector Buitrago. That doesn’t mean they’ve been out of the limelight—Echeverri released her self-titled ode to motherhood in 2003, and earlier this year Buitrago put out his own album, Conector (both available in the U.S. on the Nacional label), a successful experiment in blending traditional and modern sounds into one compelling package. Recently, “Baby Blues,” a track from Echeverri’s solo album, was included on the soundtrack of the hit Mexican film La Mujer de Mi Hermano. And Echeverri and Buitrago have continued to tour and write music together.

Still, these solo outings have not inexplicably spawned rumors of the band’s imminent breakup—never mind the facts: that Hector produced Echeverri’s record, and that she was all over his CD. “We've been saying over and over that [the gossip] is not true,” she says by phone from L.A., where the group is mixing its new disc. “But some people actually have come up to me to ask why the band broke up!”

The fact is, they are still very much working together, and have the aforementioned new CD scheduled for release this fall. As of this writing, it has no title, but Andrea was eager to offer a few hints about what to expect from it.

“The record we’re making now is musically much closer to La Pipa de La Paz” than to other works, Andrea says. “We now have live drums, which we didn’t have for a long time—that changes the whole thing. There are many songs that protest against war, the spreading of poison over the Amazon jungle, the objectification of sex and the abuse of economic power.”

“It is essentially a rock album,” she continues, “but it still has a lot of fusion with folkloric traditions, which was harder to do without a drummer. We now have a larger roster of musicians on board, and that helps expand the our musicality.”

On their 2005 tour (which included a scorching performance at New York’s Central Park Summerstage), the band performed material from Echeverri’s solo album and from the duo’s back catalog. Echeverri played acoustic guitar on some songs, with Buitrago on bass and three other musicians on keys, guitar and drums. “Back then, you had the same guy doing drums and percussion, but now we’ll have two different musicians for that,” she adds.

The difference between Echeverri’s and Buitrago’s respective solo albums and Aterciopelados is considerable, and Echeverri is quick to acknowledge the effect methodology has on the resulting music: “When I write for Aterciopelados, I do so with my guitar and then bring the songs to Hector, who then writes arrangements for it and makes it almost unrecognizable to me.”

“My solo album,” she adds, “was about being pregnant and having a baby, and he produced it without interfering with my original ideas. That was very nice, and made me feel very comfortable. Working with him on his album, though, was completely different. I went there and sang as he wanted, and then I just went home after that—no worries at all.”

Conector features contributions from several other guest artists as well. Some of them were recruited from longtime friendships, while others come through music industry connections, such as Brazil’s Fernanda Takai, who sings in Portuguese on “Fruto Real” (Real Fruit).

“We got to know Takai when we were on the same label,” Echeverri recalls. “She came in and it was a beautiful experience, she has such a great voice. Julieta [Venegas, who

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