Sunday, 3 February 2013

Diablos del Ritmo: The Colombian Melting Pot 1960—1985

compilation and concept by Samy Ben Redjeb

As a rule, I don’t buy compilation albums. But when I read the Analog Africa press release, a few weeks before Diablos del Ritmo became available, I knew I’ve got to get it. Listen to a few songs on the SoundCloud and you’ll know why.

The first CD is dedicated to Afrobeat, palenque sounds, champeta, lumbalú and Caribbean funk, while the second CD covers puya, porro, gaita, cumbiamba, chandé, mapalé and descarga. Many of the tracks were never available on CD before. The 60-page booklet — a hardback book, really — provides quite an illuminating reading.  I only wish the text was  an old-fashioned black-on-white  rather than, um, cyan-on-dark grey or yellow-on-dark grey, which is hard on the eyes.  I wonder whether Colombian music would ever be as rich and diverse as it is now if people involved in the process (aka Pirates of the Caribbean) paid any respect to such nonsense as copyright.

The sound systems on the Caribbean coast want exclusive, sole ownership to the music and, to make sure nobody would ever be able to recognize it, the original covers were thrown away and the label stickers were drawn over.
Also termed “el despeluque”, “la caída” is the precise moment when Kenyan, Congolese or Nigerian songs switch in rhythm and mood. <...> The “picoteros”, the DJs on the Colombian Caribbean coast, would only play “la caída”, which can last up to four minutes. Once the “break” is over, the picotero would check the reaction of the crowd and if they asked for more, he would just lift the needls and place it back to the beginning of “la caída” as often as the dancing (and drinking) clientele demanded.
To find out that somewhere in South America, African music from the 1970s, very much neglected in its country of origin, was being embraced by a young generation of Colombian music connoisseurs, was a revelation. <...> Here the music is shared, and the vinyl will get played until is completely worn out.

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