Amoeblog

Meridian Brothers-Desesperanza

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, October 15, 2012 07:38am | Post a Comment
Almost two decades ago, David Hidalgo and Louie Perez from Los Lobos mixed experimental music with Mexican traditional music and the barrio East L.A. sound to make the excellent project, The Latin Playboys. They created a sound that was familiar yet somewhat skewed. It left me with a feeling of playing a warped gem of a record that had been abandoned in an East Los Angeles basement for years. The soul of the music on the record was worth the damage that it would have on the stylus, as would the wooziness one would get listening to a warped record.  That’s how great that first Latin Playboys’ album is.

Eblis Álvarez, a member of groups Frente Cumbiero and Ondatropica, is the brainchild behind The Meridian Brothers. When listening to Desesperanza, I got that same feeling, except the gem of a record was found in a basement in Bogota or Medellin.
Álvarez played and recorded everything himself. The experimental composer uses the contents of his native Colombia as his canvas, layering heavily “Ring-Modulated” keyboards and Caribbean guitar work that is African in nature. Vocals are usually sped up or slowed down rebajada style, giving the effect that this recording is older than it truly is. The bass and percussion come from the traditions of Colombian music. If Álvarez chose to play it straight, it would still be an accomplishment in itself as far as bringing back the old school Discos Fuentes sound.

A perfect example of what Álvarez accomplishes with The Meridian Brothers is on the song, “Salsa Del Zombie” The base of the song is a classic descarga what one would have heard on the dance floors of Colombia in the 60’s and 70’s. Layered on top are the spooky keyboards, pitched-down vocals and a killer African Highlife guitar solo. On top of that, the lyrics sound like something Peruvian singer/comedian Melcochita would have written.





In a lot of ways (and without intention) The Meridian Brothers comes of like a genre-bender like Tom Waits. All of it sounds so familiar but the sound is all its own. You hear the minimalist experimentation, you hear the out-sounds from the likes of Sun Ra. You hear the nods to the great Colombian group Afrosound, who were the first to mix African, Colombian and spacey keyboard sounds all in one. Still, the sound is all Álvarez, which is a feat that is all too rare these days.

Jende Ri Palenge, A Recording & Documentary on The Afro-Colombian Community of Palenque, Out Now

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, March 4, 2012 11:05pm | Post a Comment
I’m a fan of the group, Bomba Estereo. Recently, I have become even more of a fan for how they represent their home country of Colombia through their art. Their Electro-Dub influences mesh well their Cumbia, Champeta and Colombia Salsa references. Along with such artists as Frente Cumbiero, also from Colombia, Bomba Estereo brings a fresh take on Colombian music to the rest of the world.

I was happy to read about a project that a couple of members of Bomba Estero, Santiago Posada and Simon Mejía, were a part of. Jende Ri Palenge is the result their three month stay in San Basilio De Palenque. Not only is San Basilio De Palenque the birthplace of Afro-Colombian music but also it’s a town famous as being the first free slave community in Colombia. During their stay, Santiago and Simon built a studio in the town of San Basilio De Palenque and recorded the various artists that live and work there. At the end of their stay, Santiago and Mejia left the studio for the people so that they can continue to record themselves.

The culmination of their stay is a 3 disc/5LP + DVD box set, released by Soul Jazz Records. Jende Ri Palenge features the music recorded with the Palenque community, as well as remixes of their original compositions by some of South America’s best remixers. Each version includes a documentary film of the recording process, also made by Mejia and Posada

According to the Soul Jazz website, Posada and Mejía chose to focus on three artists: Panamá, León, and Sikito, who put together various line-ups to play music typical of the region. The Afro-Colombian sound that the musicians of Palenque recorded for Jende Ri Palenge is the origins of Colombian music and quite frankly, of many Latin America musical styles today.



The CD version includes a disc of original music and the documentary. It also includes a separate disc of remixes by electronic artists such as Osunlade, Matias Aguayo, and Kromestar.

The LP version will be limited to a 1,000 worldwide. It's a 5-LPs set that include both original music and remixes with the documentary on DVD.

Colombian-Americans - Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 29, 2010 03:00pm | Post a Comment

In the US, the word "Latino" is used often, regardless of accuracy, as shorthand for a region's dominant Latino population. In the southwest it usually means "Mexican," in the northeast it means "Puerto Rican" and in Florida, "Cuban." Indeed, those are the three largest populations of Latino-Americanos in the country, although it goes without saying that there are many less-recognized groups of Latinos. Each have their own distinct culture, history, and place in America. This entry is about Colombians, who at an estimated 730,510 currently living in the US, make up the seventh largest Latino population, and the largest population of South-American immigrants in the country.

The country of Colombia is home to at least 85 indigenous nations, including the Muisca, Quimbaya, Tairona, Wayuu, Arhuacos, Kuna, Paez, Tucano, Guahibo, Cauca, Guajira and Guainia. The main population of European immigrants to Colombia were from Spain. Basques, Italians, Germans, the French, Swiss, Poles and Russians also migrated in large numbers. Smaller but significant numbers of European immigrants include Belgians, Lithuanians, Dutch, British, Portugese and Croatians in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From 1825 til 1851 the Spaniards forcibly brought uncounted numbers of slaves from West Africa. Syrians and Lebanese arrived from the Levant. Today, 58% of Colombians self-identify as mestizo, 20% as white, 14% as mulatto, 4% as black, 3% as zambo, and 1% as Native.

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Bomba Estereo Live At Amoeba Hollywood 11/16

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, November 23, 2009 12:00am | Post a Comment

When I heard that Bomba Estereo would be doing an instore performance at Amoeba, I didn’t know what to think. A few years ago, I heard their song “Huepajé” on a Nacional Records compilation and I dug it. Almost every time I played that song in the clubs, someone asked me about the song. I was anticipating their album Blow Up when it came out, only to be slightly disappointed by the somewhat sterile sound of it. I felt it was an adequate album, but not the one I was expecting. Perhaps their Electro-Tropical hybrid worked better as a single than a whole album. Soon after the album was released, I was getting reports from wherever Bomba Estereo played, from folks in Texas to a good friend in Tokyo, that this band live was not to be missed. It was only now that they got to make their way to Los Angeles. I hoped my friends were right.

The audience waiting for the show was small before the band went on. It was mostly your Latin Alternative enthusiasts and curious NPR types. Later, just before Bomba Estereo went on and during their set, the late-arriving Colombian nationals started trickling in, some decked out in yellow, blue and red, the colors of the Colombian flag. I saw a few gentlemen sporting the traditional Sombrero Vueltiao, the traditional hat of Colombia commonly worn by Cumbia and Vallenato musicians. I even saw a woman that was a complete Shakira knock-off in the front row, I kid you not! So when Bomba Estereo hit the stage and started the first song with the thud of conga synonymous with Cumbia, the audience was up and dancing.

The four-piece band, all from in and around Bogotá, Colombia, cannot escape the sound that is in their blood. The Cumbia rhythm, which seems to define Colombians, is the foundation of their music. However, it is layered underneath the surfy guitar, spacey keyboards, Dancehall vocals and dub bass. The hypnotic beat and the layers of sounds make a background for singer Liliana Saumet vocals. She is a mixture of M.I.A. and La Mala Rodriguez by the way of Annabelle Lwin from Bow Wow Wow. She is pretty much the show, using both a clean vocal mic and a dub vocal mic for effect. The band (bassist with synths, guitar and drums along with a computer for backing tracks) kept up the energy to match their spark plug of a singer. Their music hits you like a wave. You can resist it but it's better just to ride with it. Soon I was hooked. They played for forty-five minutes and it seemed like ten. I have to say my friends were right about this one.

After the show I felt that you have to experience Bomba Estereo live to appreciate Blow Up. Much like Bomba Estero label mates The Nortec Collective, their trance-rhythms and layers are lost on an album without the imagery and energy they produce in a live show. Perhaps I lack imagination or I get inundated with so much music that I get numb to it all. Perhaps clearer eyes and ears could enjoy it without the live show. Who knows? All I know is that I can listen to Blow Up with fresh ears now.

For more photos from the instore, click here!

Why You Should Shop In The World Music Vinyl Section #3 - Classic Disco Fuentes LPs

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, January 6, 2008 03:07pm | Post a Comment

I asked a sales rep from Miami Records, the U.S. distributor of Discos Fuentes, why they don't release older Disco Fuentes titles with the original covers. She told me that their core market wants new music and doesn't care about the older titles anymore. I have to tell you, the biggest selling Discos Fuentes related title we had at Amoeba Hollywood last year was the Colombia! compilation, put together by the Soundway label out of England. Soundway licensed classic Discos Fuentes tracks that the Miami Records rep said no one cared about and added a great booklet with liner notes and photos of the original album covers. The Colombia! Compilation was geared towards the Anglo market, people who aren't familiar with the music, but many Latinos who grew up with the music bought it because it included many tracks that had been out of print for years. It goes to show you that most record company people tend to be oblivious about their own market.

The best place to find those out of print Fuentes titles is in the World Music Vinyl section, now located at the end of the Rock Vinyl section.

V/A-Cumbias Cumbias Cumbias

Rodolfo Y Su Tipica R.A.7-Show Bailable!
The Latin Brothers-Te Encontre
Latin Brothers-Suavecito, Apretaito
V/A-Salsa/Cumbia (double album)