Under The Influence: Contento

By 11 November, 2020

The Colombian duo of Contento have been turning heads with their hyper take on salsa, utilising electronic and analog instruments (in lieu of a full orchestra) to create what call salsapunk. The project is formed by Paulo Olarte (also a member of Acid Coco) and Sano (who has previously released on influential dance imprint Coméme), who connected over a love of classic salsa, with that bond developing into this musical partnership. Their debut album Lo Bueno Está Aquí is out now. Recorded between 2016 and 2019, the album sees the duo do to salsa what Staff Benda Bilili do to soukous, i.e. turn it on its head while still paying dues to all that has come before, with a cheeky nod and knowing wink to boot.

Here Contento choose eight of the influences that played a big part on the sound of their album, explaining why each had such an impact. Unsurprisingly, it’s a trip through salsa’s limits, those points where it threatened to break out of its genre confines. The tumbao is about to hit…

Mita y su Monte Adentro – Arecibo

This record from the late 60s is miles ahead with salsapunk attitude when compared with other salsa recordings from the “golden era”. The way Mita plays string instruments has a strong Latin street vibe that stands out from the rest.

Alfredo Linares ‎– Tiahuanaco

Alfredito’s signature choir ‘Eeeehhhh’ is a refreshing breeze, every time you hear it while dancing, it feels like your feet are floating above the ground. We wanted to blow that breeze to our listeners.

Mulatu Astatke & His Ethiopian Quintet ‎– Afro-Latin Soul

The Ethiopian maestro recorded a Spanish-language number on this record that inspired us with its minimalist tumbao. His fearless approach to the Latin sound gave us strength to find our own.

Wganda Kenya – El Evangelio

The mastermind, Fruko, guided us from a distance to help us build our grooves. Rhythms, bass lines, sweet winds, repetitive pregones (choirs) are part of the magic elements of this recipe.

Julian y Su Combo – Ins Rock

This is the Colombian Hendrix from the Pacific Coast. The sound is heavy, modern and classic at the same time. It’s the sound of Cali and the speed of this city. The heart beat of the Pacific Coast.

Chuito and The Latin Magics – From The Street

This soul and boogaloo album showed us that salsa is about to arrive, with a more urban sound and it is going to take over. Like the title says, From The Street, this is music influenced by the street and for the street. It’s a sound you can try to imitate, but for sure, it’s not easy. 

Fruko Y Sus Tesos – A La Memoria Del Muerto

This is the Colombian interpretation of what salsa was doing at that very same time all over the world, with musicians from all over the country. Definitely one of the main inspirations on our album, it has to do with the fact that even if we want to sound different we are always going to sound Colombian!

Bush Y Su Nuevo Sonido – La Chola Caderona

This is a heavy piece of salsa. The utilisation of the synth in this track was always something that was on our to do list and having an Juno 106 in our gear was definitely the perfect excuse. The tracks we made with this sonority are not on the album, but will be made available soon.

Contento – Paso Palante

And to finish off here’s Contento with “Paso Palante”, the first single off their debut album, with its video paying tribute to their homeland.

Contento’s debut album Lo Bueno Está Aqui is out now on El Palmas Music

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