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BBC – Music – Review of Various Artists

Written by on October 23, 2020

Here are some dance and song forms you’ve probably never heard of before. The Analog Africa label continues its inspirational crate-digging mission, filling up this two-CD set with a surfeit of rare African-influenced Colombian exotica, the ingredients explained and documented in a 60-page booklet.

This collection is a result of Analog Africa’s founder Samy Ben Redjeb’s extensive vinyl archaeology trip in the city of Barranquilla. The period covered might be from 1960 to 1985, but some of the cuts sound even older, bearing the sonic qualities of the 1950s.

In reality, the bulk of the selections come from the 1970s. Even though these might be noticeably archaic in nature, the set is mastered for maximum crunchy punch, its winding basslines blooding noses on the dancefloor.

Lesser-known types of Colombian music featured include Palenque, Terapia, Puya, Gaita, Mapalé and Chandé. There are even a few examples of Colombian Afrobeat. The selections are steeped in guitar fuzz (thoughtfully reined-in compared to surrounding instruments), governed by agile basslines and bursting with subtly-echoed call-and-response vocals, sometimes sonorous but mostly yelped. Güiro gourds are vigorously scraped throughout.

Most of the artists will be unfamiliar names to most listeners, but Calixto Ochoa, Sonora Dinamita and Alfredo Gutiérrez might be known to some. The concept of Colombian Afrobeat is particularly specialised, and Wganda Kenya represent the sound with a lusty pulse on El Caterete.

Calixto Ochoa y Los Papaupas fill Lumbalu with fluttery accordion, topped by crisp trumpet and snaking clarinet. Conjunto Son San contribute one of the best vocal spreads with Cumbia San Pablera.

The clarinet is centre stage again on La Veterana by Peyo Torres. The tunes by J. Alvear and Juan Piña are the best examples of quaint exotica. The first, Cumbia Cincelejana, has very pleasing vocal harmonies; the second, La Nena, features dinky electric organ and a deeply swampy sound, like an orchestra arriving from an adjacent chamber.

The quality is supreme throughout, with every track destined to fill a dancefloor with abandoned gyrations. The sounds of these 32 gems are at once hardcore and accessible, sating the needs of both pedal and mental extremities.

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