Saturday, April 30, 2011

Digging, cumbia 45's for y'all!

I'm back with more cumbia 45's to share. Haven't been very active lately with all the wedding and my parents visiting and all that but piles of new records have been growing around my desk and it was time to get some of these out of the way. There're some really good ones this time around, enjoy!

AFROSOUND-Sabor Jibaro/Calor (Discos Fuentes, 1976): "Calor" is one of those irresistible Afrosound classics in the style of "Caliventura," great beat, nice organ, almost no vocals, great dance track over all. "Sabor Jibaro" on the other hand has more of a salsa feel to it with all those arrangements, it's more down-tempo but you can still dance to it, it gets pretty good in some parts but nothing memorable, never as hot as "Calor".
LOS DESTELLOS-El Campesino/La Pastorcita (Líder, date unknown): A Peruvian chicha first for my selections of shared 45 rips. The record was pretty old and dirty and doesn't sound so great, but you can still enjoy that awesome psychedelic guitar working it on "El Campesino." Both songs are about poor farmers and their miserable life, are we supposed to dance or cry?    
DOMINICA Y SU CONJUNTO-El Cucambe/La Manzana (Mary Lou Records, date unknown):I don't know anything about the artist here and I couldn't find anything online. It's pressed in the US, but the musicians could be from anywhere, who knows. Still, two great up-tempo tracks designed to ignite the dance floor.
DANDY BELTRAN-Cumbia Del Ecuador (Dan-Ed Records, date unknown): Another totally unknown. Maybe Dandy is from Ecuador, but I doubt it, the b-side is a boring ass bolero called "Cielo Argentino"(not included in the rips) and I don't think his Argentine either. Maybe the guy traveled through South America and dedicated one song to each country he visited. Still, this is the first cumbia I find that talks about Ecuador and it's pretty good. The record was pressed in Hollywood, CA.
HUGO BLANCO Y SU CONJUNTO-Oro Chocoano/Agua Fresca (Discos Fuentes, date unknown): Discos Fuentes in the '70s released a lot of stuff that wasn't necessarily cumbia like this oddball here. With its Spanish guitar, it sounds pretty much like an all-instrumental rumba, but then it has those weird phased drums... I don't know what the hell they were trying to do here. Anyway, the record is hella dirty and it sounds like a frying pan on high heat.

LIBERACION DE VIRGILIO CANALES-La Pantera Rosa (Sultana, 1977): My favorite from this batch. Henry Mancini's "Pink Panther Theme" reworked as a dope cumbia! I don't know who Virgilio Canales is and I've never heard of his band Liberación. I assume he's Mexican, because that's where the record was pressed, and that he mostly did covers, because the b-side (not included here) was a wacky Spanish version of Steve Wonder's "Sir Duke".
ROY RODRIGUEZ-Cumbia Cartagenera/Negra Cumbiambera (INS, date unknown): Some classic Colombian golden age cumbias by a lesser known name on a lesser known label but as good as the best Discos Fuentes from the time. "Cumbia Cartagenera" is a must have for any cumbia party and "Negra Cumbiambera" opens up with a sampleable clean break. What else do you want?
PASTOR LOPEZ  Y SU COMBO-Traicionera/Mi Compadre Villanueva (Discos Fuentes, 1978): A Colombian by adoption, Pastor López is actually Venezuelan and it shows in his dance pop hit "Traicionera" in a style that influenced a lot of 80's tropical music. On the much more laid back b-side he tries to sound more traditionally Colombian.

Friday, April 22, 2011

SERGENT GARCIA-Una Y Otra Vez (Cumbancha, 2011)

So, I actually got married today. No kidding. We had the ceremony earlier today and now I'm just killing some time before we do some dinner thing with the two families, you know, nothing too fancy. Anyway, how is this relevant to the review you might wonder? You see, Sergent Garcia's concert at the Sterngrove Festival in San Francisco was the first show I went with who today became my wife. And yesterday I got a package with this CD as some sort of wedding gift, the first one, from my bosses at So I've been listening to this CD today a lot. Didn't have time to come up with any thoughtful review or funny/potentially offensive remarks as usual, sorry to disappoint, you must understand my head is somewhere else. Still, the CD sounds pretty cool, it comes with the most amazing design in the booklet done by the ubiquitous Afro Mestiza from Colombia, who keep setting the aesthetics standards of mestizo music. The album includes guest appearances by Bomba Estéreo's Li Saumet and Tres Corona's Rocca, who back in the 90's was one of my favorite Spanish language MCs in the world, even though back then he sung mostly in French. Anyway, I don't know what else to say and my wife is waiting for me to get ready to go, so that's all the review you get this time.  

Friday, April 15, 2011

ROMANOWSKI-The Instigator/Sol Cumbia (Bastard Jazz, 2011)

As you all already know very well, I'll pretty much buy anything that has the word cumbia on it if it comes in a black circle made of vinyl with a big hole in the middle. So I didn't think it twice when I saw this one.
Romanowski has quite a big name as a DJ and artist here in the Bay Area but I haven't seen him anywhere close to the local ñu-cumbia scene. Granted, I don't know the dude and I don't know what he looks like so maybe he was right there all this time, peeping in silence from some dark corner at the Tormenta Tropical or El Superritmo parties.
Thing is, like DJ Zeph did last year, plenty other local (and not local) DJs and beatmakers from other scenes (from hip-hop to dubstep) have recently discovered cumbia thanks to all the ongoing blogging hoopla and decided to try their luck with  everybody's "exotic" rhythm du jour.
Nothing wrong with that. I personally welcome them all, the more the merrier. I wasn't born into cumbia either so I could too be labeled a bandwagon rider. I really like the two tracks on this 45, and I'll probably play "The Instigator" a lot more in my eclectic sets because of its irresistible funky beat. But I doubt the "Sol Cumbia" track will ever make it into my cumbia sets, you see, it doesn't sound like a cumbia at all. It may have some cumbia tiny elements in the arrangements, but if you played this for a cumbia audience at a Sonidero party in Mexico or a bailanta in Argentina and claim it's a cumbia, they'd probably stone you to death. Have we reached the point when people start throwing the cumbia name just randomly in the titles of the songs/albums just to guarantee some sales as it happened with funk?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

BERSA DISCOS #7-DJ Negro/El Nosotros (Bersa Discos, 2011)

It's been a while since the previous Bersa release. This one has been unofficially announced a long time ago, I've heard about it from Oro11 and DJ Negro himself many times, but for several reasons its release has been delayed until now. So you can imagine my excitement when I opened the mailing box yesterday and found this twelve inches of shiny black beauty.
Above all, I really appreciate the work and love that the Bersa guys have been putting in their releases. I love the fact that they release exclusively vinyl and that they have given the opportunity to showcase their talent to many otherwise unknown foreign artists. Like these two right here.
El Nosotros, I have no fucking idea who he is. I read he's from Canada or something, but I've never heard about him. DJ Negro, on the other hand is like Argentina's neo-cumbia best kept secret (even though he's been on Bersa Discos more than once already). He's like everybody's favorite producer (and by everybody I mean Toy Selectah, Oro11 and myself) but he hasn't blown out to international recognition quite yet, just because he's not part of the Zizek elite. But while Zizek in its recent releases has been straying further away from its cumbia roots, Negro comes from deep down the local cumbia underground and he's not going anywhere else.
There's almost no cumbia in El Nosotros' side, outside from the predictable sample of La Sonora Dinamita's cheesy-ass classic on the first track. The rest all goes around the reggaetón beat, sped up but not enough to reach moombahton tempo.
Negro opens up with an oddball, a remix of "Por qué te vas" an old romantic song by Spanish singer-songwriter José Luís Perales that I absolutely abhor, I guess because it fashes me back to some dark repressed memories of my toddler years, when the original was popular. "Por qué te vas" was a huge hit in Latin American romantic radios in the '70s and it's been covered in cumbia form many times before, from Mexican cumbia sonidera to Argentine cumbia villera (it was also covered plenty in other formats, like this one version by indie-pop weirdos Los Super Elegantes). What I'm trying to say here is that it doesn't matter how many times they cover it, or even if the one doing so is the best cumbia producer in Argentina, the song still sucks ass so I most probably won't be including it in my DJ sets.
The ones I will be playing as soon as tonight are the other two, both authentic DJ Negro bangers. The last one, "Demencia" for some unexplained reason comes in rebajada version, which I guess works out great if you're doing a dub set but it turns into a great dancefloor killer if you switch it to 45rpm.
Well done Bersa, keep 'em coming!

Buy it here soon, there's only 300 copies available and I already have mine so 299.