Tuesday, April 30, 2013

MEXICAN DUBWISER-Revolution Radio (Kin Kin Records, 2013)

Marcelo Tijerina, a.k.a. Mexican Dubwiser has been in this ñu-cumbia thing since the very beginnings of the genre. In fact, as I've already mentioned on this blog before, he was of a great influence to me at one point, because he was the first DJ I saw spinning Toy Selectah-produced cumbia remixes back when I still didn't have the balls to do so myself. It was after I saw him opening for Kinky that I said to myself, hey, I could be doing that myself, that could be me. And eventually that led me to create that new DJ persona that started spinning ñu-cumbia in San Francisco's scene back in late 2006.
It took him a long time and a bunch of hard work and perseverance, but after all those many years and a couple of successful bootleg comp releases, Mexican Dubwiser finally got his official debut album out.
It's packed to the rim with top-notch guests and there's a second disc (in the Mexican version of the album only) with plenty of remixes. As expected cumbia is the glue that holds it all together but there are many other spices in the mix. Now of course, ñu-cumbia isn't really blog-worthy news anymore and most of the hipsters who were into it a couple of years ago now are impatiently looking at their Twitter feed to see what's the next cool thing coming after moombahton. Marcelo isn't here to please those types trying to come up with the next cumbia-trap bullshit. Leave that to soundcloud babies, I say. There are some really good joints here for those true heads who stuck around and I'll be spinning them next time I have a chance.

Buy it here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

PALENKE SOULTRIBE-Mar (Independent, 2013)

When Palenke Soultribe presented Oro, the first third of their Afro-Colombian conceptual trilogy, they announced it as the pop-song-oriented one. It was shinny like gold, get it?  It's sequel Mar was supposed to be all about chill out, laid-back atmospheric music and the last chapter Fuego, would complete the colors of the Colombian flag with by igniting the dance floor.
Somewhere along the way, it seems that the LA-based Colombian duo lost interest in keeping with that rigid formula. I think they just cracked the code of what was the successful formula for their tracks and decided to keep exploring it and perfecting it. It took them some time to accomplish this, but four years after Oro, Mar is finally here and there's nothing quiet about this sea. The pop song format of its predecessor remains in center, with plenty of guests doing the vocals, but the emphasis is on the beats that are irresistible. Now I get the feeling that they find themselves in that tricky place where they're not just a couple of producers doing DJ-oriented tracks like in their beginnings but they're becoming an actual band, with a signature style.
There's a lot of variety to please all sorts of crowds from the more mainstream clubbers to the ñu-cumbia hipsters (if they still exist). My favorites and the ones that have more chances of getting on my DJ-set rotation are "La Gozadera," "Blanco & Negro" and "El Cometa" but there's plenty more to dig in so I strongly recommend you get the whole album.

Buy it here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

RVSB-Raff vs. Bitman (Nacional Records, 2013)

RVSB is basically what happens when you mashup DJ Raff and Latin Bitman. Individually known as two of the best DJ/producers to ever come out of the progressive Chilean hip-hop scene of the '90s, when they join forces the resulting amalgamation is greater than the sum of its parts, and weirder.
From the album's title you might wrongly presume (as I did) that it's a DJ battle (remember those?). However this has nothing to do with a DMC championship or with turntablists showing off tricks to impress the judges or humiliate their opponent. This album is, instead, what you get when you lock two beat nerds and sonic architects in a studio with a bunch of hi-tech gadgets and ask them to come up with some futuristic shit. So there's no real "vs." on this Raff vs. Bitman, in fact you can't even tell one appart from the other.
What you can certainly do is compare this release to what they've done in the past and if that's what you were expecting, you might be either disappointed or surprised, because it's radically different. There's none of the glorious boom-bap beats that Raff used to spin on his Raffolution solo debut and none of the bossa-nova samples that Bitman has employed both on his solo stuff and on his more recent Ritmo Machine collaboration. Also, there're no guests stars (they both had collaborated with Ana Tijoux in the past, among many other Chilean hip-hop luminaires) except for some sparse vocal drops by pop chanteuse Francisca Valenzuela and rapper Chico Claudio.
What you will find is some modern top notch EDM with a lot of synths and heavy bass, very current sound. Sure thing, I would've loved if they'd kept at least some more break beats and scratch and made this less abstract. But I have to stand up and applaud them for having gotten away with Nacional Records releasing this album as is, without coercing them to add some Latin flavor in the mix (or adding the word Latin to the album title... or the artist's name). There's nothing explicitly Latin about this, except for two or three words en español and the fact that the album was recorded in Chile by Chilean artists so I'm sure the demographically segmented media in the US will have a hard time pigeonholing this and the label will have a hard time trying to get their attention. So yeah, in the end, I also have to give it to Nacional for having the balls to actually release this difficult album and not always falling into the niche clichés.

Buy it here.