Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kumbia, bloody kumbia

"Te gusta Cumbia?", asks an Argentinian friend, in a slightly surprised tone, while browsing the towers of records that somehow always pile into my bags when travelling. There's also a few cumbia villera-albums.

I'm not quite sure what to answer. "Pués... Mas o menos." I try to explain that I find it interesting, and I like how phenomenons like cumbia villera rise from the poorest and saddest neighbourhoods in the metropolis. I like the idea that these unpriviledged people have taken something from the other side of the continent and turned it into their own thing. And that this thing has actually won popularity among the masses. I kinda like the idea that this has happened in a city often too concerned with maintaining it's reputation as the Paris of South. I already know quite well what my friend is going to say: He tells me he hates cumbia.

4AM the following morning he, and all the other fine young porteños, are dancing in the backyard to cumbia like there would be no tomorrow, while trying to teach us gringos the proper cumbia moves. This pretty much sums up why I want to post a couple more cumbias. All of them are very different, an example of the variety which, by my guess, could be a result of this strange schizophrenic love-hate-relationship. Love them and hate them. Like the argentinos do, too.

First, to illustrate where the cumbia came from and what is sounded like back then, a few gorgeus old Colombian cumbias. Here you have clearly audible the musical roots of the sound: the African drums, the Spanish and Andean influences and a certain Caribbean wibe. The first song was posted by some kind soul ages ago on the Lifesaver-records message board (one of the finest record stores in Finland, by the way - visiting the store at Laivurinkatu 41, Viiskulma is an essential part of any shopping trip to Helsinki) and the other two are from the collection Historia Musical de la Cumbia Colombiana, released by Discos Fuentes.

Gladys Vierra & Orquestra Sonolux: Dice Que Me Quiere (zShare)
La India Meliyara & La Sonora Dinamita: Las Velas Encendidas (zShare)
Benetia & La Orquesta De Ray: Columbia Tierra Querida

Then a couple of tracks from a brand new album Kumbia Nena! by Kumbia Queers, a bunch who call themselves tropical punks, look like a garage rock band and I suppose sound a little bit like one, too. A lot of the songs on the album are covers, for which they are best known for - below an amusing version of a song by The Cure - but I wanted to also post one of their own songs, since I actually like those better.

Kumbia Queers: Kumbia Dark (zShare)
Kumbia Queers: Kumbia Zombie (zShare)

Next, a track from an equally new Imperio Diablo-album. On the album covers the band looks like a mix between trendy fashion design students and a bunch of backpacking hippies straight back from Bolivia. Which, believe it or not, actually looks kinda cool. The songs have quite strong world music-influences and also add a bit of hip-hop into the mix. This song is a version of a Colombian cumbia paying tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Imperio Diablo: Los Cien Años De Macondo (zShare)

And finally, a big smash-up hit by El Remolon, the one he played in the last Zizek I attended. This song drove the people absolutely mad.

El Remolon: Music (Andres Lanredo vs. Madonna) (zShare)

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