Wednesday, June 24, 2009

VILLA DIAMANTE - Empacho Digital (Free Download)

If you are into Zizek and Argentinean new school cumbia, you must already be more than familiar with Diego Bulacio, A.K.A. Villa Diamante. He was one of the founders and first DJ's of Zizek club in Buenos Aires so he's regarded by many as one of the pineers of that scene. I, myself, discovered with excitement this whole new scene a few years ago by a comment I found online about his first series of mash-ups so I have to thank him for the heads-up.
Now Villa Diamante is releasing for free download a huge collection of his past work, Empacho Digital. Many of these mash-ups have been published on several blogs during the past months, so if you've been following him, like I've been, you'll find that you already have most of the tracks. I don't really know if these are new versions or remastered versions with a better sound, but I hope so, some of the originals didn't sound very good, so I'm downloading them again anyway.
Now Empacho Digital is divided in three virtual albums, with a total of 42 tracks and only very few of them have any cumbia. You'll find lots of different genres here, mashed up together in a way that's very respectful (maybe too much) to the originals in keeping the forms and structures of the songs and adding very little extra condiments. Many of the mixes are fun to listen to, specially if you know the originals beforehand. Only a couple are dancefloor-oriented. Some of the raps are disappointing when the MC's go off beat. But still, it's a great collection with such a variety of styles that you'll definitely find some you'll like and since they are free, you don't waste anything by giving them a chance. Big props to the art designer, I loved that cover!

Download here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

LULACRUZA - Canta (Free EP)

There was a track from these guys in Zizek's second comp so I assumed they were from Buenos Aires. One of the members actually is, but they both live in the Bay Area, CA. I had no idea we were almost neighbors until yesterday when we randomly ended up seating at the same table during a wedding reception (a wedding where cumbia was danced as a ritual during the ceremony!).
We started talking and we realized we had plenty of people we knew in common (besides the recently married couple), and we've been at many of the same events but we've never actually met, which is odd in a city like San Francisco where we constantly get that feeling that we all know each other.
Anyway, Lulacuza are actually Alejandra Ortiz and Luis Maurette, Colombian and Argentinean respectively, and they make beautiful music. She sings, he makes noises and push buttons and the results are pretty amazing. Nobody would dare qualify them as cumbia artists but they certainly do have some clear cumbia influences in their melodies and rhythm (among other Latin American folk sounds) and even though they approach it from the techno point of view, they do not focus on making people dance. So if you're looking for dancefloor-packing hip-shaking beats with a straight-forward güiro sound and/or cut-and-paste DJ-oriented cumbia tracks, this is probably not for you.
Lulacruza is just plain beautiful music with a refined minimalist techno feel to it that makes it more sophisticated and "artsy" if you may (but not necessarily pretentious), sort of what other underrepresented Zizek artists like Gaby Kerpel and Alex Krygier are doing, but overall they remind me a lot of Juana Molina, and I mean that as a compliment. They have a couple of albums out and this recent 8-tracks EP with remixes by neo-cumbia luminaries like Kerpel himself, Colombia's Pernett and Pasternak, who we know from Bersa Discos releases.
To add to their extreme coolness, the EP is sold online at whatever price you wanna pay (starting from zero) and they give you many options regarding the level of compression of the tracks so you can actually get them in super high quality if you want (and/or have enough room in your drive). Man, I can't wait to start fucking around with their music and blend it into my next Linyerismo episode!

Download Here

Thursday, June 18, 2009

LOS LABIOS - Cumbia Lulu (Free EP)

Today was one of those days that when, in anticipation for a gig (Mestiza!) I spent hours and hours downloading tons of music. I lost count of how many records I downloaded and of course, I don't have time to listen to them all, I just listen to the first 10 or 20 seconds of each song and if I like the beat, I keep it and add it to my play list, if not, directly to my trash can.
Well, then I ran into this free EP on some blog and I was like whoa! how come I never heard this guys before? I thought I knew all the neo-cumbia artists coming out from Argentina, but apparently that's not the case. This was love at first play! I wanted to skip the songs after ten seconds because I had like three more albums to listen and so little time, but I just counldn't I had to listen to the full tracks of the whole EP. However this is not sophisticated underground electronic cut-and-paste cumbia in the Zizek style, it's a lot more glossy pop but still I loved all the songs! I want more, please!!!

Download Here

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES – Commercial (Nacional Records, ’09)

I have to admit, I have a love/hate relationship with these guys and that translates onto most of their work, I love half of it while I hate the other half.
On one side, yeah, I have to give it to them for being the only cool band to ever come out of Venezuela. At the same time, Venezuela is a weird country where people actually enjoy merengue-hip-hop, still, in a totally non-ironic way, so it must not be too hard to be the coolest amongst so much cheesiness.
The thing is, Amigos have been living in New York for like ten years now so they don’t really represent Venezuela much anymore. Now they are the mandatory Latino party band that you have to see at EVERY music festival there is in the US. They are fun to see live and they always drag a crowd of hot women that you will never see at any other Latin Alternative shows, so that’s cool. But the idea that whenever a concert promoter tries to fill a festival line-up and eventually gets to the part when he wonders, “hey we should have some Latinos here too, who could it be?” and he can only come up with ONE band, always the same one, that’s just depressing dude.
Then again, I can’t hate Amigos for what it’s not their fault. They have no control over their home-country’s lack of taste and the concert promoters’ lack of imagination.
So why do I really hate them? Because they keep insisting on a disco-funk revival that was cool back in 1998? Because all their songs are exclusively about sex from a horny-frat-boy perspective? Because when they sing in English they’re horrible?
No, I hate them because they don’t give me more of what I love about them. Yeah, sounds like a contradiction, but let me explain: Los Amigos Invisibles seem to have a very creative collage-aesthetics side that definitely comes from a DJ’s brain. But they express this exclusively in the short skits between songs, some of their instrumental tracks, and their amazing live mash-ups. I love all that, but on their albums that type of content is relegated to the filler category, while the highlights are always those redundant corny songs that stick to a fixed formula.
I’d love if they got rid of the obnoxious singer and just release a DJ oriented album with tracks full of those little brilliant bits, like the dildo commercial on this new CD, properly named Commercial (and released by the only US-based Latin music label that matters, Nacional Records). But then again, if they did that, it’d be just me at their shows and none of the hot Latinas who go only because the singer is oh-so-handsome. So they are probably right at giving them priority over the eccentric requests of this particular hater.
Anyway, there are at least four tracks from Commercial I’ll be keeping on my play-list to probably include on my future DJ sets -definitely the instrumental afro-funk “Burrundanga”- maybe more.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More Cumbia Journalism

Check out my interview with neo-cumbia pioneer Toy Selectah published by remezcla.com


















And if you can read Spanish, take a look at this article published by Billboard