Thursday, May 21, 2009

TOY SELECTAH - Bersa Discos #5

Bersa Discos is the first neo-cumbia specialized record label and this is their fifth release and probably their best one. The previous four were mostly compilations of up and coming artists like DJ Negro, Panik DJ and Bersa's own Oro11. For this one however, they dedicated the whole 12 inches of the vinyl to the biggest name in neo-cumbia: Toy Selectah.
My biggest regret right now is having finished my Linyerismo Episode II mix-set before getting this record. Some of these tracks would've worked perfectly for the last five or ten minutes where I was struggling to find what else to play. But anyway, it already had enough Toy Selectah-if there could be such a thing.
Similarly to what Toy already did for his Mad Decent digital release of last month, on this one the former Control Machete producer goes way beyond the standard limitations of traditional cumbia and breaks in new territory in some weird futuristic space that he calls "ravertón". It still has the constant cumbia güiro sound somewhere in there, but the BPM's are more like in the range of the 130 instead of the classic average 90. So I don't think this can qualify as cumbia anymore even though many of the main elements are present there.
Toy likes to fill his mixes with infinite layers upon layers of small details and his tracks rarely take breaks or calm down, they are a constant on going inferno of crazy dancing where cumbia blends with reggaetón and retro-acid-rave (he's been using the cliched Lynn Collins' "Think" sample from the hip-house era a little too much if you ask me).
The six tracks included in this EP are amazing but my favorite is his take on DJ Negro's "Mundo Querido" which is the best set-opening track possible. Right now the record is only available in vinyl format on Turntable Lab and I recommend you get a copy before it sells out, which will happen, no doubt, since this will potentially turn into a collective item. Soon they will also release it for digital download. Meanwhile you can listen to their promotional track here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

That Colombian Fetish

Recently I've been thinking a lot about how unfair I've been to Colombian music on this blog.
I've been writing quite a lot about new school cumbia, but focusing mainly in the Argentinean and Mexican scenes, I guess because they are closer to me and because they are the ones who got more exposure and media-attention (thanks mainly to Zizek and Toy Selectah, respectively).
The thing is, cumbia is a traditional Colombian music genre and we all know that. Nowadays we're getting neo-cumbia releases from totally random places like Australia, Netherlands, and Switzerland but I bet there are a lot more interesting ones in cumbia's birthplace that we are not just paying enough attention too.
I mean, we all know of Richard Blair and his worldwide-successfull Sidestepper project that released some very interesting neo-cumbia track like ten years ago, way before the crossover craze. But besides that guy, who's actually Brittish, I know there must be many other young Colombians experimenting with this contagious beat.
The thing is, Colombians have a completely different relationship with cumbia than fans in countries like Argentina, México, El Salvador and Perú. For Colombians cumbia is a deeply-rooted folk music style of African slaves descendants. They have a certain respect to the genre that we don't particularly share. In the rest of the continent, cumbia evolved into a whole different thing and is generally perceived as a low-brow, kitschy, cheesy music listened only by the undereducated working classes. So when cool urban kids in Buenos Aires or México City approach cumbia as a source of sampling material for their productions, they do it with a sort of tongue-in-cheek kind of humor. Colombians don't see it that way and that's why the neo-cumbia coming from Colombia sounds so different. It's fun to listen, and fun to dance to, but they're not necessarily making fun of the genre itself.
A couple of days ago the French mestizo artist Sargento García released a very interesting five song EP called Cumbia Muffin where five different neo-cumbia artists from Colombia make remixes of his songs, which were not all particularly cumbias in their original format. The results are quite impressive. Among the artists who work on the remixes is Bomba Estéreo which I predict, will be in everybody's best-of lists at the end of the year. Their album Estalla (out on Nacional Records) is amazing and the song "Fuego" (featured in Linyerismo Episode I) might be the first neo-cumbia hit with mainstream appeal, check out the video that just came out too and fall in love with their singer like I did and like everybody did during their visit to SXSW.
Another of the artists involved in that project is former Sidestepper member Pernett, who I honestly didn't know much about and I regret it. He has a couple of solo albums out already and in his first one, called Cumbia Galáctica (!!!!), he made a cumbia cover of "La Abuela" one of the first successful rap songs in Spanish. I just wish I knew about this before because I would've totally include them in Linyerismo Episode II.
The Colombians that I did include in Linyerismo Episode II were Palenke Soultribe, which readers of this blog are already very familiar with and this other guys called Systema Solar playing this amazing song:

I bet that there must be tons of others like them doing amazing experiments with cumbia down in Colombia that are waiting to be discovered. I'm eager for more.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

LINYERISMO - Episode II by DJ Juan Data - FREE

If you were wondering why I wasn't posting for the last few weeks, well here is the answer, I was busy working on the sequel for my Linyerismo mixtape. It is not really a mixtape per se, because there's no tape involved of course, but if there was a cassette this would be the other side to that same cassette.
Episode II starts right were Episode I left, that is at 110 BPM, and takes the listener in a journey further away from the traditional cumbia tempo into the lands of electro in 130BPM. So, even though cumbia is still present throughout the mix, there are plenty of other eclectic condiments to this salad.
Now for all you DJ's and turntablism connoiseurs wondering how Linyerismo was recorded let me tell you that the equipment used was a Macbook with Torq Connective, a Technics 1200MK2 turntable, a Denon two channel mixer and a Trigger Finger by M-Audio. Even though it might seem at times that it was edited in a loop sequencing software like Garage Band or Ableton Live, all the mixes were recorded in real time, with two channels only. Of course, it was recorded in ten million takes, so every time you hear more than two tracks playing at once (which is almost constantly) it means that I mixed two songs first, recorded it, then played it again and added a third one on top, and so on. That's why it took me so long. And that's also why there's little bits where I come in slightly out of tempo.

Anyway, you can download Linyerismo Episode II for free - HERE