July 18 2008
Welcome to the Sound Travels web edition for the show on Friday, July 18th. Today's trip is though Latin America, exploring one of its defining sounds: Cumbia. Specifically, it's the sound of cumbia nueva, or cumbia villera which much like cumbia employs a rhythmic shuffle of the rhythm section with accordions wheezing and electronic beats, effects and aspects stretching the sound into the future of its own form. The sound is simultaneously old-school as well as totally modern, employing techniques from other genres, like dub reverb, or dancehall's syncopated feel. Electronic club sounds infiltrate this update on all levels and is attested to by the widespread popularity of this music throughout Latin America.
If ever there was a sound that could do this, it's cumbia, which is pan-latin in any case, with musicians ranging from Mexico to Argentina, Colombia to Paraguay and everywhere in between. Cumbia, until mid-20th century(and still in the minds of older folks), was considered a vulgar dance, practiced only by the lower classes. With globalization apace, those same "lower" classes have created a community of consumers that is enormous and far more than the class distinctions of economic imperialists would admit. This is music at its global realiztion point and America isn't far behind in my mind and is even starting to see cumbia bubble to the top on shows just like this one... it's Sound Travels, only on 88Nine RadioMilwaukee. Here's this week's playlist:
1. DJ Negro "Lluvia" - Argentina : DJ Negro was a prime mover during the formative years of reggaeton in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as his turntablism and club coordination helped initiate the style's formation. out of Buenos Aires, he is working to combine classic cumbia riffs with everything from dubbed out bass to trance synth, exansions... You can catch his work on a great cumbia comp called Bersa Discos #2 which is an excellent label out of Cali dedicated to cumbia
2. Princesa "Si Te Vas" - Argentina : And I know only a bit about this one, Princesa, out of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is as much hip hop as she's cumbia here. Her flow is good yo! If you know more about her, let me know.
3. Lila Downs "La Cumbia Del Mole" - Mexico : Ranchera, Jazz and Cumbia all figure into this Mexican singer's repertoire. Lila Downs, Oaxacan by birth, Mixtec Indian in ancestry, she writes songs from her own rich history and I play them here, her cumbia is hot and here on Sound Travels.
4. Lulacruza "Pensar Bonito" - Argentina & Colombia : From their album Do Pretty!, this duo instinctively weaves lush feminine vocals, South American instruments, field recordings and electronic sounds to create songs raw, primal and distinctly creative. Luis Maurette and Alejandra Ortiz, from Argentina and Colombia respectively, are the core of this sound.
5. Sonido Del Principe "Cartagena" - Netherlands : Sonido del Principe is exploring Cumbia's ramifications while being an example of its global appeal all while mashing-it up with some bass heavy electronic music. You'll dig it as much as I do, caliente!
6. Celso Pina "Cumbia Engollia" - Monterrey, Mexico : This cat is another great Mexican artist, nominated for numerous awards, even a Latin Grammy for his music. Here, he flexes his skill on the instrument he loves: the accordion. An older artist, many of you may already be familiar with his work.
7. El Hijo De Cumbia "El Hijo De Cumbia" - Argentina : Another one from the Bersa Discos #2 comp, the same one I found DJ Negro on. El Hijo de la Cumbia is a producer from the Buenos Aires suburb of San Martín. While some artists who live in the cosmopolitan confines of Capital Federal dabble in cumbia as a sort of retro-novelty, this bedroom producer comes from an area where traditional cumbia is basically the official soundtrack for parties and dances. As such, he has gone out on quite a limb by mixing in hip-hop and dancehall elements with his music. The name El Hijo de la Cumbia translates to "The Son of Cumbia" and he certainly lives up to the title. Anchored by thick and varied percussion, his music has a somewhat psychedelic quality. Imagine, Dan the Automator putting together some cumbia tracks and you're getting close to the world of El Hijo de la Cumbia
8. El Remolon "Pikatxu" - Paraguay : El Remolón combines cumbia and other latin rhythms with the modern electronic sounds of glitch, IDM and minimal techno. With a heavy reliance on microsampling, his music is marked by a level of complexity and precision often lacking in a scene filled with DIY bedroom producers. In a larger sense, the music reflects an entire generation of Buenos Aires kids who grew up surrounded by traditional latin sounds only to become immersed in pulsing European electronic beats as soon as they started hitting the clubs. El Remolón manages to fuse these two worlds and also create a manicured version of electronic cumbia suitable for both headphone listening and the dancefloor.
And just like I do every week, you can listen to stream of the show, free of interruption, for your enjoyment