The Meridian Brothers - Cumbia Siglo XXI Vinyl LP
The Meridian Brothers Cumbia Siglo XXI Vinyl LP
Meridian Brothers, the solo-project and live band of Colombian based Eblis Alvarez, release the new album Cumbia Siglo XXI via Bongo Joe Records. A thrillingly unique blend of EDM ‘sidechain' techniques and traditional Colombian cumbia, lead single "Puya Del Empresario" bursts into being with impossibly infectious and off-kilter rhythm, fuzzy synth lines and snatches of vocals. Alvarez says of the track: "Cumbia disintegrated into drum machines. AIs are fucking idiots, Puya rides the machine."
This updating of the traditional cumbia sound of Alvarez' native Colombia sits at the centre of Cumba Siglo XXI and is the reason why it sounds like nothing else. The album is inspired by legendary group Cumbia Siglo XX‘s experimentation with the traditional cumbia form in the late 70s and early 80s which lead to an entirely new form of the genre. Now Meridian Brothers take this style as a jumping off point and continue the experiment, thus the XXI iteration of cumbia music is born.
Cumbia Siglo XXI follows the success of Meridian Brothers largely acoustic album ¿Dónde estás María? but as is typical to their prolific career so far, continues to push the band in new directions. For those unfamiliar with Meridian Brothers and their twisting, turning back-catalog, this is a good place to start, with something entirely new.
Alongside influence from Cumbia Siglo XX as well as other 80s cumbia bands such as Grupo Folclórico and 2000 Voltios (whom the album's striking artwork is a tribute to), Alvarez this time incorporates a multitude of guitars, synths, algorithmic software and any other tech he could get his hands on. This includes early drum machines as used by kraut pioneers Kraftwerk, another unlikely influence. Taking the simplistic, repetitive beats of early drum machines and applying them to create strong, energetic Colombian rhythms was no easy task but is just one of the frameworks Alvarez confined himself within in attempt to break out in the making of this album.
What created this record is a complex formula but it's not one that necessarily needs unpacking, these are songs that can be taken at face value, baffling and brilliant. The simple formulas that make cumbia so infectious and joyful are still there. The songs are playful and surprising, the singing style bizarre and endearing. Alvarez only has one aim for Cumbia Siglo XXI, "I really hope people can still understand the search of the Meridian Brothers." The key to that understanding is simply to listen, and enjoy.
The Meridian Brothers Cumbia Siglo XXI Track Listing:
1. Los Golpeadores De La Cumbia
2. Cumbia Del Pichamán
3. Puya Del Empresario
4. Cumbia De La Igualdad
5. Cumbia De La Fuente
6. Cumbia De La Amistad
7. Cumbia Del Relicario
8. Cumbia Totalitaria
9. Cumbia De La Soledad
10. Cumbia De Los Proletarios
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