Countless artists have been inspired by Latin dance rhythms from Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Cuba; others have sampled or incorporated these influences into electronic music productions. For Sidestepper’s Richard Blair, this wasn’t enough.

The British DJ, producer, and sound engineer at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios took Latin music production beyond mere sampling or playing a conga riff and assembled a band featuring musicians from all regions of Colombia. Playing both live and as a soundsystem, the group released its first album, More Grip, on Palm Pictures in 2000.

Since then, Blair and Co. have toured, put out the “Linda Manigua” single, and have been featured on a number of world beat compilations, but their output has been scarce. That’s set to change in February 2008, when Sidestepper releases The Buena Vibra Sound System (Palm), a new collection of remixes from More Grip plus unreleased tracks. Remixers on the album include Lightning Head, Boyz From Brasil, and Blair himself.

The Buena Vibra Sound System is the first album to capture the vibe of their dance club lineup in all its variety. “The idea with The Buena Vibra Sound System was to make a real party record,” says Blair. “What we’ve tried to do is to erase the lines between being a live band and a sound system and to make real block party music with nothing precious about it.”

The track “Paloma,” leaked to DJs and tastemakers early in 2007, charted highly and received widespread club support. The tune swings with summery Spanish-language vocals and mid-tempo electronic beats perfect for an early evening DJ set or change of direction from downtempo to house.

And before you sigh and say, “Not another bland electro-Latin album,” realize that Blair explores the rhythmic connections between Jamaica, Nigeria, and Colombia on the album on potent tracks like the previously-unreleased “Que Sera” and “San Juan.”

The Buena Vibra Sound System is out February 19, 2008.

Photo of Richard Blair courtesy of Palm Pictures.

1. Sidestepper
2. Mas Papaya
3. Que Sera
4. Me Voy Andando
5. Deja
6. San Juan
7. La Bara Ratin
8. Me Voy Tripeando
9. Chimical
10. Hoy Tenemos
11. La Paloma