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PLAYLIST: ¡Escuchen! Contemporary Music From Colombia
Robbie Judkins , September 23rd, 2016 13:58

Exploring the Colombian music scene in the wake of the Bogota Music Market

The Bogota Music Market (BoMM) is Colombia’s annual networking event that provides a platform for Colombian musicians and entrepreneurs to showcase their work to an international audience of buyers, writers and promoters.

During the week there are a series of live showcases; performances that provide a taste of the current musical talent in Colombia. During that time I was able to see several groups both at BoMM and at the sister festival, Hermoso Ruido (Beautiful Noise).

Below is a selection of contemporary Colombian groups and artists who have delighted and thrilled me recently. Many of the groups are tapping into Colombia’s rich musical history and creating fresh, futuristic music that demands a global audience. I was kindly helped by Miguel Fonseca of La Roma records with this selection.

Los Pirañas

It would be sinful not to mention Los Piranas in any discussion about contemporary Colombian music. Describing themselves as rudio tropical (tropical noise), Los Piranas are really one of the most exciting and noisiest bands in Colombia, if not the world, right now. Knowledgeable and respectful of the musical heritage of Colombia, the trio of - Elbis Alvarez, Mario Galeano and Pedro Ojeda are able to fuse, blend and mutate cumbia, punk, champeta, raspa, alt.rock etc with modern and joyous experimentation. The three members are also at the core of several other incredible groups - Meridian Brothers, Chupame el Dedo, Romperayo, Ondatropica and Frente Cumbiero, who are all worth checking out. As a live act they are mesmerising, fun and very danceable. Listen to their recently reissued album, Toma Tu Jabon Kapax.

Chupame el Dedo

Another project involving the unstoppable members of Los Piranas. This is odd, odd music. The duo of Elbis Alvarez and Pedro Ojedo make use of synths, drums and pitch shifted vocals in a way that is both confusing and delighting. It lies somewhere between punk, cold wave and drunk dance music, while being tinged with a freakish dada sensibility. If it doesn’t have you smiling; it will have you falling over. Listen to La Negra en Bola from their 2016 self-titled album.

Animales Blancos

This group combine a variety of styles touching upon; post-punk, tropicala and prog. These tracks are then laced with musique concrete style samples of animals, lo-fi glissandos and howls. The experimentation and playfulness is thrilling, and never becomes alienating or pretentious - often returning to a familiar hook or rhythm that remains both satisfying and surprising. The wide-eyed and open-eared approach to it all was a joy to experience live.

Tribu Baharu

The style of champeta originates in the northern reaches of Colombia - it is the music of Afro-Colombians, workers, slavery and sound systems. Champeta is also sexy, danceable and energetic music. Tribu Baharu are a contemporary champeta group and are able to rework this historical style into a fresh and energetic manner. Shining guitars melt with subsonic rumbles, hyper-energetic rhythms and call & response vocals.

Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto

Gaita is another historical musical style embroiled with indigenous culture, slavery and musical families. Gaita is known for it’s use of a flute (called a gaita), which comes in two forms; the male (macho) with two holes and the female (hembra) which has five holes. Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto are a multi-generational group of musicians from northern Colombian who use these traditional instruments and vocal styles. In 2014 they hooked up with the long-standing hero of British dub, Adrian Sherwood, to create a fusion of Colombian gaita and global dub sounds.

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