Thursday, May 10, 2012

LOS MITICOS DEL RITMO (Soundway Records, 2012)

I've just bought this album twice. I first bought it digitally and after just one listen I was like, what have I done? I didn't need this one in fucking MP3!  What was I thinking? I desperately need this on vinyl, like, now! So I just went and ordered a vinyl copy to add to my collection, and since it comes from Soundway, I'm pretty sure it's gonna include one of those free download cards which I won't be needing and I'll probably end up giving away.
Quantic has become the biggest name in current Latin music that mainstream Latinos still no nothing about. He's right at the center of that paradox, the Latin-music-for-non-Latinos-done-or-curated-by-non-Latinos paradox that fascinates me so much. Meaning he's the leader in introducing non-Latinos all over the world to Latin-but-cool music while the average Latinos out there are stuck listening to cheesy ass bachata and reggaetón or trying to emulate, in Spanish, whatever is the current trend of the Anglo pop/rock/rap music word.
In a way Quantic, with his super prolific body of work and his many simultaneous side-projects, is kind of creating a new canon for Latin music from a gringo perspective that pretty much ignores all the trends that dominate the Latin American airwaves, but it's still very well grounded in the real roots of some of the best (and sometimes sadly forgotten) Afro-Latin music.
I wonder what would be like to see the Latin music universe exclusively through Quantic's telescope. I guess it looks something like an alternate reality where the funkier, soulful side of Afro-Latin music survived the '70s and remained dominant during the following decades oblivious to all the cheesy crap that came after. I too wish I could live in that fantasy world, but I am Latino and I grew up in Latin America surrounded by all that corny ass shit and I grew up hating Latin music because of that crap, so even if now I love some aspects of it, I still feel compelled to make fun of it.
Quantic never feels the need of making fun of the kitsch side of it because he sees it from an outsider perspective and he's able to focus on only the cool stuff while ignoring the overwhelming surroundings. And I think that's his biggest advantage when he approaches Latin music and that's why at the ond of the day, he being from the UK, ends up situating himself as one of the most important figures in current Latin music world wide.
This is his second full length album this year (the one with Alice Russell just came out weeks ago) and we are still looking forward for the upcoming Ondatropica double (or triple?) album he's dropping this summer with Frente Cumbiero and a bunch of top-notch guests. There's a lot of expectation for that project. That's probably gonna be a game-changer and maybe will end up crossing over and finally introducing Quantic's fabulous music to the average Latinos out there. In the meantime, Los Míticos Del Ritmo is a nice collection of dancefloor-oriented all-instrumental cumbias, some of which will definitely become mandatory visitis in all my future DJ sets.

More info HERE.

Monday, May 7, 2012

CONGO SANCHEZ-T.E.T.O./Oleada Calor (ESL, 2012)

Regardless of what his name might suggest, Congo Sanchez is not really latino (maybe if he was, he'd know to spell his last name the proper way, Sánchez) but his music (somewhere in between funk and dub with an emphasis on percussion) has definitely some Afro-Latin elements. Hence, his debut release deserves a mention in The Hard Data. Especially because there's a 7'' single version going around and as y'all know I'm a big supporter of this specific format. 
I only knew about Congo Sanchez for his collaborations with DC's Los Empresarios but it seems like the guy has a pretty busy schedule contributing to the back-beat of many other high profile DC-based projects, including Thievery Corp., See-I and my personal favorites The Funk Ark. Then, somehow, he found some spare time to put out a humble EP as a solo artist, simply titled Vol. 1 and this 7'' single includes two of the tracks off that EP. I played it in my early warm-up set last weekend and it sounded great. These are subtle chill-mood grooves, very much in tune with the ESL catalog, Thievery fans will be pleased. I like it, but I'd much rather see him doing something more dancefloor-igniting, leaning more heavily into the funk side of it, you know, something that would feel at home in Fort Knox Recordings. 
Anyway, it's a great positive sign that ESL is still putting out vinyl, considering they have been releasing a lot of very interesting stuff recently that definitely deserves to be pressed in this format. I'm talking about The Funk Ark, Novalima and Afrolicious.   

Buy it HERE.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

REMOLINO DE ORO (Domino Sound, 2012)

This obscure New Orleans-based record label specialized on reissues and compilations of old, weird, foreign stuff on vinyl, released a first cumbia collection a couple of years ago. This is like the sequel.
When I say obscure label, I mean, they are either too old school or they wanna play the secretive game and keep it in the DL. I could not find a website anywhere, no mention of them on the usual social networks, even finding a decent quality image of the record cover on google took me a long time. So I don't know if they are just not internet savvy, or they simply play a complete different game of promotion that I don't understand. But somehow their albums get out there, in abundant quantities, and probably that's all that matters to them, and relying on word of mouth.
Anyhow, this is simply another compilation of golden-age Discos Fuentes stuff. Classic northern Colombian dancefloor tracks from the cumbia family, heavy on the percussion (plenty of breaks) and with great quality mastering. Some of the tracks are all-time favorites that many vinyl cumbia collectors might already have from the classic 14 Cañonazos series from the '60s and early '70s, but it's worth having them in this clean remastered versions if just for DJing purposes only. These are accordion-ridden cumbias by the true legends, like Andrés Landero and Calixto Ochoa from that era before big band brass arrangements started to bring cumbia closer to the salsa format and arguably making it cheesier. I only wish they included some liner notes or something.
On a side note, the cover collage art used the photo from the classic ¡Nos Fuimos! by Los Corraleros De Majagual, the same one that inspired me to name Bondi Blaster's debut EP ¡Lo' Juimo! I always loved that cover.