Silence is rare in Colombia. Wherever you go you’ll hear music. Colombia possesses many music genres from the fusion of afro-caribbean and Spanish influences. For instance: porro, currulao, merecumbe, gaita. Reggaeton is popular as well, especially in the caribbean regions. Cali is the city of the salsa, but this style is loved in the whole country. And last but not least I have to mention cumbia. This wonderful genre is a mixture of Native South-American, African and Spanish music.
Bridges between traditional and new styles
Fascinating in my opinion are contemporary bands like the Meridian Brothers, who experiment with traditional South-American genres and electronic music. Bands who build bridges between the old and new music styles of Colombian music. Bands who bring something fresh to genres like cumbia and champeta, but at the same time preserving their authenticity.
Hereby my favorite contemporary Colombian bands:
This cultband (see album cover in picture above) creates music that is innovative and at the same time humoristic. Their compositions are a cocktail of cumbia, salsa, merengue and electronic music. Band leader and guitar player Eblis Àlvares was already in the nineties a prominent figure in the alternative music scene in Bogota.
Carmelo Torres y Los Toscos
Carmelo Torres is a living accordion and cumbia legend. He learned his accordion skills from his famous teacher Andrés Landero. A few years ago the career of Torres took a new turn since he collaborated with Los Toscos: a collective formed by great Bogota-based musicians, such as Mario Galeano (Fremte Cumbiero), Kike Mendoza (MULA), Santiago Botero (el ombligo) and Pedro Ojeda (Romperayo), S, on guitar and Juan Castaño (La revuelta). Los Toscos makes experimental jazz blended with modern Colombian music. The marriage between Carmelo and Los Toscos results in a cocktail of Colombian roots and garage fuzz. By the way, the song La antropologia is written by the great Colombian songwriter Velandia.
This Colombian band is famous for being one of the founders of the Colombian ‘electro cumbia’ sound. It’s music is inspired by traditional genres such as salsa, cumbia and electronic styles like drum ‘n’ bass and dub. Sidestepper is formed by the English dj and producer Richard Blair in 1996 and is still going in strong. The band released several albums over the years and worked together with a number of well-known Colombian musicians, like Humberto Pernett.
Get the party started with Bomba Estereo. An explosive mixture of hiphop, reggae, cumbia, gaitas, electronic beats and postive vibes. The band is founded in 2005 by Simón Mejía. Not much later singer Liliana Saumet from Santa Marta joined the group. In 2009 Bomba Estereo conquered the world with their hit ‘Fuego’. Not much later they recorded the hit ‘Fiesta’ with no less than Will Smith. Nowadays Bomba Estereo is still bombing the world with hits like ‘Soy Yo’.
This trio includes tree key figures of the Bogotan music scene: Mario Galeano en Pedro Ojeda (both Frente Cumbiero) and Eblis Àlvares (Meridian Brothers). Together they combine salsa, champeta, merengue and other genres with psychedelic, electronic elements. The result is innovative, a bit weird and extremely danceable ‘tropica noise’.
Musician, DJ and record producer, Will Holland, originally from Worcestershire, lived for seven years in Colombia. His music is inspired by the styles bossa nova, cumbia, salsa, soul, funk and jazz.
Frente Cumbiero meets Mad Professor
Led by Mario Galeano, Frente Cumbiero explores the roots and boundaries of cumbia. Other prominent members of the band are Pedro Ojeda, Marco Fajardo and Elbis Álvarez. In 2009 Frente Cumbiero and dub producer Mad Professor came together for a three-day recording session. Besides making new recordings of original music from Frente Cumbiero, the goal was to bring together prominent Bogotan musician such as Liliana Saumet (Bomba Estereo) to improvise. The result is a successful encounter of cumbia and dub.
Will Holland (Quantic) and Mario Galeono (Frente Cumbiero, Los Pirañas) have joined forces and created Ondatropica. For this project they collaborated with well-known artists such as Fruko, Juancho Vargas and also beatboxers and rappers. The result is a mixture of cumbia, champeta, funk, hiphop and reggae.
More suggestions? Please write me your favorite Colombian artist. I am always happy to learn about new music.