Showing posts with label house. Show all posts
Showing posts with label house. Show all posts

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.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

ELEMENTS OF LIFE-Eclipse (Fania Records, 2013)

I have nothing but respect for Latin house maximum pioneer Louie Vega. However, I'm not much of a house fan, per se, so for obvious reasons Kenny Dope is and will always be my favorite half of the Masters At Work. Still, when I heard that Fania Records was coming out with a new release, their first release of brand new original music in decades (they've been doing mostly reissues and remixes in this new incarnation of the label so far) and it was going to be one by Louie Vega's live band project, I was extremely excited for it. I really loved what Joe Claussell did for Fania last year and I was expecting something on that sense.
Was I disappointed when I finally listened to it? Well, yes and no. Don't get me wrong there's some great musicianship in this Elements of Life band and I think they're a good match for Fania. It's very soulful, as expected, and more on the chill side than the dance floor, but still, some beautiful music. Problem is, all the lyrics are filled with optimistic, positive, uplifting messages and after a couple of tracks I get annoyed by that. Sorry, I'm too cynical, and I can only take save-the-children-heal-the-earth type of songs in very small doses. I need more Pedro Navaja on my Fania, I need more gritty streets. This is too clean, too shinny, too sterile.
Anyway, that's just one of the 2 CDs in this pack. The second one is an hour-plus-change mix set of reworked Fania classics and covers and I loved it from beginning to end. Just for that second CD, it's worth picking this one up. I would usually suggest you get the vinyl edition, but you'd be missing this mix, so in an unlikely move, I'll recommend you to ignore your instincts, don't judge this album by its horrible cover, and buy the CD instead.

Orde yours HERE.

Monday, January 7, 2013

EMPRESARIOS-El Sonido Mágico (Fort Knox Recordings, 2012)

Empresarios' second full length album came out a couple of months ago and didn't get the exposure it deserved. I'm in part guilty for this, I neglected it and I didn't give it the time to actually listen to the whole thing, from beginning to end, until this past weekend. Now I feel bad because I should've been paying more attention to it. 
It's a great album, the problem, I think, was that they overwhelmed me (and maybe others out there like me) with so many EPs and remixes during year so, so by the time the album finally came out I just saw the playlist and I was like, "whatever, I already have most of the tracks anyway, why bother?"
Now when I finally put the CD on the home stereo the other day and listened to the whole thing, well, it was a different experience and it made more sense than the lose track, here and there, lost in my playlist. It made me appreciate a lot more the wide range of styles these guys have mastered, and incorporated since their splendid debut. I particularly enjoyed the addition of dance-floor-oriented house tracks. The trippy, dubby side, explored on the instrumental tracks has always been delicious, and that didn't change. There was no other "Cumbia" like the one on their debut, the track that made me turn my attention towards them on the first place and there's a bit of reggaetón and other stuff that doesn't really go with my palate but I can tolerate in contained doses. Also, the intro is pretty awesome.
Empresarios is mainly a party band, they don't have much of a message, no deep content in their lyrics, they just want you to enjoy some good music with positive vibes and dance so if that's what you're into, you'll love this since the production is top-notch. For me, coming from my underground hip-hop background, sometimes its hard to tune off the lyrics part and focus on the music, and maybe that's why I always prefer their instrumental tracks. Fortunately they have plenty of everything to please a heterodox crowd, from the most eclectic to the mainstream latin urban radio listeners. Unfortunately there was no vinyl release of this one.

Buy it here or here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

JOSE MARQUEZ-Remixes 2 (Basic Fingers, 2012)

LA-based house DJ/remixer José Márquez dropped this one recently and it was an unexpected surprise. Honestly when I saw that he remixed traditional cumbia standard "El Pescador" (a.k.a. "La Mezcla") my first reaction was like, what? why?
I mean, everybody and their mothers have covered that song already and it has already become a crossover house hit a few years ago in the hands of Michael Clais, with all its successive remixes. However, it took me only one listen to realize that this was a very different mix and worth of being added to my set. Even though it also took Toto La Momposina into the house music realm, it did so with a lot more focus on the percussion and the drums on this track are really a delight to listen to, to dance to and to mix. Also the break down, with her voice alone saying "entra la tambora" it's an instant eargasm.
Now if the percussion on the A side was dope, wait until you flip it to the Tego Calderón side. That was the real unexpected shit on this 12'' single. I'm not a big fan of Tego although I do respect him way more than all those phony-ass reggaetoneros with plucked eyebrows. I never would've thought his laid-back flow could be a good match for a 124 BPM house track but it works out great. Still, the good shit here is not in his voice but in the hypnotic tribal drums that never stop throughout the track. After all he's not really rapping anyway, he's just there talking like some African witch doctor during a psychedelic-infused session of trance dancing.
Can't wait to spin this one. It even has potential to crossover to some more Latin/mainstream crowd. We'll see how it works.
Also make sure you check out José Márquez remix of Nickodemus on his latest release, out now on ESL.