Review Future Sounds of Buenos Aires

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Since approximately 2006, the musicians from ZZK Records have managed to turn Buenos Aires into a hotbed for sonic experimentation, mirroring on some level global trends within electronic music and the remix culture. Nonetheless, the sounds coming from the ZZK parties were not your typical mashups; they were colourful and ingenious reinterpretations of Argentine and South American folkloric music. These were sounds tailor made for city dwellers and party-goers; cumbia and folklore stripped off its social stigmas and re-imagined for a different type of audience. But, for all of its revolutionary power, the question remained: would this new genre stand the test of time?

It would be speculative to try to answer that question now, but in the meantime ZZK Records prepared Future Sounds of Buenos Aires, a collection of 12 tracks showcasing some of the best musicians to come out of the city’s electronic music scene in recent years. Slated for a November 5th release in the United Kingdom (it’s already available in the US), the record features favourites from the ZZK roster like Mati Zundel, Tremor, Chancha via Circuito, Super Guachin, Frikstailers and La Yegros; alongside scene veterans Daleduro, Trip Selector and The Peronists, among others.

There was always the fear that with the high turnover of electronic music genres and the rapid success of the digital cumbia and the digital folklorika movements from Buenos Aires to Toronto, that the music would become too repetitive or would lose its momentum. But with Future Sounds of Buenos Aires, the ZZK crew manages to prove a few things, two of them being that (1) there is still space for reinvention within South American electronic music, and (2) that the artists in the Buenos Aires scene are not going anywhere just yet. It was a smart move for the ZZK collective to distance themselves from the digital cumbia label as it was probably starting to get too confining, considering that music from newer acts falls more in line with the general electronic music scene or the cumbia scenes. But this doesn’t hamper the fact that there is unity within the music and the artists in the city.

Along the compilation’s twelve tracks you can hear the different approaches the musicians have taken towards the sound that ZZK built: some present a darker, more mature sound while others retain their danceable elements. An example of this is the opening track, “Guacha” by Frikstailers. While cumbia is still an integral part of the rhythmic base, the sound is heavier and more in line with global bass. Similar comparisons can be made about Daleduro and The Peronists’s tracks, “Malambo” and “Mi Llegada, Tu Llegada, Nuestro Descanso” respectively. Daleduro, for example, incorporates dubstep with folkloric instruments to create slower, darker, intellectual compositions. The Peronists, like Chancha via Circuito, take a more minimalist approach to their mix, representing a more polished production and deliberately cosmopolitan sound.

The compilation also includes 8-bit genius brothers Super Guachin; dancehall and reggaeton influenced acts King Coya, El Remolón and Fauna; and straight up cumbia acts La Yegros and Trip Selector. La Yegros, the only female act on the ZZK roster, has one of the most interesting tracks on the compilation “Viene De Mi”; a song with an old school cumbia villera vibe. Another surprise is Chancha via Circuito’s “Prima”, which sounds very different from anything on his previous records.

One of the drawbacks of Future Sounds of Buenos Aires is that it can get repetitive towards the end of the record. But that doesn’t take away the fact that the album offers a comprehensive look at one of the most exciting and innovative electronic music scenes in South America and the world. The ZZK crew definitely make music that, while it is not timeless, it definitely has staying power. Proving that digital cumbia or digital folklorika (or any other incarnation of the sound) is not just a flash in the pan takes some guts and creativity, specifically because of the nature of the electronic music market. It’s very easy to get lost in the mix, but Future Sounds of Buenos Aires manages to bring back the music to its birthplace while letting us know that the best is yet to come.

Future Sounds of Buenos Aires is released by ZZK Records in the UK on November 5th, and is available from Amazon and iTunes


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