chapter  13
Salsa No Tiene Fronteras: Orquesta de la Luz and the Globalization of Popular Music
Pages 24

OL began performing in the mid-1980s. It achieved a number one album on the Billboard’s Tropical Chart in 1990 (Salsa caliente del Japon) and toured the Americas and Europe between 1989 and 1994. It even received the United Nation’s Peace Award in 1993. The group dis­ banded in 1997 after releasing five albums. As a Japanese salsa band, OL faced criticism of merely imitating the sound without grasping the deeper roots of the music, and this criticism opens many of the larger issues of this article. Philip Sweeney, a well-known author of a world music guide, mocks a kind of hyperrealism of OL: “ the bright, CD-polished gloss of their music lacks the soulfulness and depth of great Latin originals” (1993). He is not the only one to accuse Japanese foreignmusic players of being mere copycats who emphasize technique over feeling. Yet it is precisely this assumed dichotomy (mastery of technique versus depth of feeling) that cuts to the core of Western stereotypes of the Japanese.