Local band six-piece Araka
cribs its name from a piece of Spanish slang that means "Watch out!" With billing like that, the music had better be suitably in-your-face. Luckily, Araka delivers, although not the aggressive attitude the name might imply. Rather, the multiculti act commands attention with a bright, brassy sound that touches on enough different cultures to offer a little piece of something for almost everyone in a Miami audience.
Though the act bills its particular flavor as "reskalsa fusion," the "s-k-a" part is the most important there. Araka's sound hinges heavily on ska -- especially its late-'90s, global-beat iterations à la King Chango. Still, with a musical lineage out of the local Transit Lounge-Jazid scene axis, that comes swirled in heavy dollops of Latin sounds and more straightforward reggae. There was probably no avoiding that kind of fusion, considering the members include a Cuban, a Peruvian, an Argentine, and even a lone gringito who gets down.
Araka's been recording in the Design District studio of Aaron Fishbein, a local producing, engineering, songwriting, and guitar whiz who's worked with acts like Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, and even the Notorious B.I.G. Thanks to his industry connections, Sony approached Fishbein and the band with the offer of a remix contest for producers using Sony Acid.
Araka released its uptempo track "Oscuridad" to the world through Sony's Acid Planet web site, and a global cross-section of knob-twiddlers responded in kind. Remixers turned the track into everything from house to dubstep to jungle. But the winner was Swiss producer Yumenomado, who turned the song into a slab of atmospheric drum 'n' bass.
"The reaction from the Acid community was really cool," says Fishbein. "I loved hearing the different versions every day and seeing their reactions on the forum boards. Hooking up with Yumenomado was a bonus. He's supertalented and we will be releasing his version alongside some better-known remixers."