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Los Pirañas
Toma Tu Jabón Kapax Russ Slater , November 22nd, 2012 10:20

Recorded live in Bogotá, Los Pirañas is the sound of three Colombian musicians taking their musical heritage into strange and new territory. The group treat Colombian styles such as cumbia, champeta and lambada exactly how Konono N°1 treated Congolese music. The results are incendiary, with the group's own description of the music as “tropical noise” pretty much hitting the nail on the head.

It all begins with 'Toma Tu Jabón Kapax' and its monstrous bass riff intro. Slowly the drums become restless and a high-pitched guitar begins to wail in the background, then everything switches, the guitar sounds more like Morse Code and the bass has switched to a simple descending pattern. One minute later and everything has changed again; the guitar now sounds like it's underwater, the bass has got caught up on a repetitive three-note riff and drums are splaying all over the place. This pace is kept up throughout the album, which uses recurring motifs and grooves throughout the songs but which is never afraid to push both sonic and rhythmic boundaries.

The trio are made up of Eblis Álvarez on guitar, Mario Galeano on bass and Pedro Ojeda on drums. Many of the strange sounds on the record come from Álvarez, who plays his guitar through a laptop with dozens and dozens of digital processes effecting it's sound. His predilection here is for manic, high-pitched tones, occasionally sounding like a duck whistle or malfunctioning computer, but always keeping things moving and always fitting in with the groove. Bass is relatively simple, which is all very well, since the band's secret weapon is Pedro Ojeda. With heavy use of timbales and cowbells – and possibly an absence of cymbals – Ojeda's sound is unique, with a shuffling quality that keeps energy levels high.

Toma Tu Jabón Kapax can be an intense listen but thankfully the band mix things up well; offering up a slower Peruvian cumbia groove on 'Lambada de Oceanía, Africa y América'; letting a simple, ominous bass line lead the way on 'Monstruo Prometedor (Homenaje al Manzano)'; or with the use of deranged octave-pitched vocals on 'Marco Polo Hombre Berraco Que La Tierra Conquistó'.

This is music that was never intended to be released. The group would perform these songs live as a break from their other projects (such as Meridian Brothers, Frente Cumbiero, Romperayo; all worth checking out). It was a chance for them to try out new ideas and entertain Bogotá's alternative music crowd. Thankfully, someone came up with the idea of recording a live set, and Toma Tu Jabón Kapax was born, showcasing a band far too good than to be confined to Colombia alone.