Review Cumbia Amazonica


Hawaii Bonzaï‘s recently-released Cumbia Amazonica compilation truly raises the bar in the search for contemporary electronic and tropical music connections. It very much continues where their first compilation, Cumbia Libertad, left off, a space where they are not only highlighting the most famous Latin genre of all but where its rhythmics and structures are presented with different sounds and musical variants.

While these kinds of musical experiments may not be for everyone, there is surely an opportunity for everyone to get behind the different artists involved in the project, who hail from all over the world. The Colombian now based in Italy, Jhon Montoya, sits side by side with Argentinean SidiRum and the Chicano electronic madness of Mexicans With Guns, the project led by none other than Ernest Gonzales.

There is a huge amount of diversity that explodes with dub cumbia, digital folklore, tropical bass, and even some 3ball and dembow elements. The only thing you need do is pick the right tunes for your enjoyment, and give space to be surprised by the many sides of this spectrum and sample what is still going on in global bass culture.

The track “Apocalypso Now!” by Salvador Araguaya, gives us a glimpse of the experiments being made in São Paulo, where the tropical wave started to get big a couple of years back, mixing Amazonian elements with Afro-Brazilian flavour. Following up there is a Peru and Argentina collaboration, with Dengue Dengue Dengue! and Los Reyes De La Milanga, making a deep cumbiahton, “Bacilah Coqueta”, a primed for the dance floor banger.

Europe is no stranger to Caribbean rhythms, so also here are Madrid-based Coconutah, with a dubbed out cumbia and Bristol born globetrotter The Silly Tang, with a deconstructed ragga mixed with cumbia. There is also a place for the lusotropicalism of Rocky Marsiano, whose underground fame comes from making beats with elements of Africa, Brazil and his native Portugal.

Last but not least, everything is wrapped up with the beautiful art of popular graphics collective Ruta Mare, Lima’s go to studio for futuristic chicha-inspired art. The duo has worked on pieces for British label Tiger’s Milk and their Peru Boom compilation, and for Chilean musicians such as Ana Tijoux, Mákina Kandela and the cumbia punk band Anarkia Tropikal.

Cumbia Amazonica is now out on Hawaii Bonzaï and available from Bandcamp


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