South America to the world

Over the past ten years the international music media has sporadically raved about the latest bubbling scene from the ‘hip’ city of the moment, be it Montevideo, Bogota or Buenos Aires. These days when we talk about modern, underground Latin American music it’s not about disparate pockets or unconnected scenes but a thriving, diverse, border crossing movement of cross-pollination and global interaction. How we view traditional Latin American music has been turned on its head and these developments are having reverberations across the world.

In the mid 2000s now household names in the scene like Frikstailers, Chancha via Circuito and Matanza, helped by platforms like ZZK Records, began to make noises for their fresh take on the continent’s traditional rhythms and music. However, they demonstrated there was something beyond the nucumbia or ethno-techno tags they had been assigned, laying the foundations for a new generation of beatmakers constructing and deconstructing a ‘New Latin American Sound’.

You could call Chancha Via Circuito one of this movement’s godfathers. In fact the quietly spoken Argentine shaman directly bequeathed his own sound and productions techniques to the new generation through his now famous production tallers (classes) in his home city of Buenos Aires. Three years on from his last album Rio Arriba, Chancha this week released his latest work Amansara and in doing so demonstrated how the sound of him and his contemporaries has revolutionised modern Latin American folk music.

Simultaneously organic and electronic, local and global Amansara is his most accomplished album yet. An album that carves out and refines his beautiful interpretation of folk music in a modern, international context. On the heels of fellow Argentine folk-tronic trio Tremor, Amansara is released on Wonderwheel, the New York based imprint run by Nickodemus.

This very Latin American sound, deeply grounded in the continent’s sounds, landscapes, mythology and cultures has made waves across the world and in turn impacted a new generation of producers in South America and beyond. A nod to the scene and testament to the family that has grown up around it, Amansara includes a beautiful ‘apprentice and teacher’ moment on the track Sabiamantis which features Barrio Lindo and Sidirum, two young producers who both attended one of Chancha’s classes.

The legacy of this ‘ZZK’ generation is clear to see in the sound of producers like Sidirum, taking inspiration from the scene’s instigators whilst adding their own influences and driving in new directions. Yesterday the Chilean based net imprint Sello Regional released their 20th EP, a collection of global remixes of Sidirum’s fantastic Le Soleil EP showcasing this next generation of like-minded producers from Latin American, Europe, the US and beyond. With guests like Haarlem’s (the Dutch one…) Umoja, Ecuador’s Nicola Cruz and Hamburg’s bombombum this is an international affair and another hint at how the scene has expanded to influence young bedroom producers across the world. The description to Le Soleil remixes sums things up nicely:

‘Generar unión por medio de la música y mostrar la visión que pueden entregar diferentes artistas de un mismo objeto. Así es como queda una obra colectiva, libre y con mucho amor por la música.’

‘Generating union through the medium of music and showing the different interpretations that artists can create from the same object. In this sense this is a work that is free collective and filled with a love for music.’

Rhythm and Roots Radio – Volume 16

We are very excited to share with you the very first ever Rhythm and Roots Radio show coming to you from the newly launched Groovalizacion Radio with you host El Búho. The new monthly radio show will bring you the freshest mix of classic roots music alongside new, future tropical rhythms from across the world (with a little leaning towards Latin American music 😉 ).

This first episode features the talented Ecuadorian producer Nicola Cruz and new tracks from Dengue Dengue Dengue, Alsarah and the Nubatones, Castro and more. You can check out the full tracklist after the break.

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Worldwide Ting Vol. 1

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Despite his limited output, Uproot Andy has made it on to my very exclusive list of reliable producers. Nearly everything (if not everything) the US based producer has released has a real quality about it. His productions have that rare combination of being melodically catchy, well produced, unique and absolutely killer on the dancefloor. This selection, the first release on Que Bajo Records maintains his reputation – 5 sure fire refixes of 5 different musical styles from 5 different countries. And they’re free.

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DJ iZem – EP2

DJ IZem - EP2 COver

Lisbon based French producer DJ iZem has been quietly bubbling away over the past couple of years as a producer on the rise. The few tracks and remixes that he has released have demonstrated a talented artist with a unique style blending tropical rhythms with funk influences, smooth synths with live instrumentation and deep basses with smooth vocals, epitomised by 2011’s brilliant Quiver / Debaixo D’Agua EP. He returns with his 2nd EP… EP2, offering another slice of quality, warm, soulful, topically infused electronica. What’s more, it is available for free download (!)

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La Chamana – A Tribute to Chavela Vargas

Earlier this month one of Mexico’s most notorious and loved musicians Chavela Vargas passed away at the age of 93. Film maker and soul mate Pedro Almodovar described Vargas as “the rough voice of tenderness” and her drawling, sadness soaked ranchera renditions made her one of the country’s most unique voices.

She also became renowned for her fearless breaches of taboo subjects in 40s and 50s Mexico (singing love songs about women, wearing trousers, carrying a loaded pistol and crediting her recovery from polio to shamans) and heavy bouts of drinking, accompanied by fellow ranchera composer and singer José Alfredo Jiménez. Despite not declaring herself a lesbian until the age of 81, her music was adopted by Mexico’s gay and lesbian community and she went on to become one of the country’s most legendary figures and singers. You can find a short but well written obituary on Chavela Vargas from The Guardian.

In celebration of la chamana‘s life and music, a group of artists have recorded and released their own tribute to the singer. The whole album 21 songs (or 40 with the extras) is available for free download here. For those who, like me, are new to Vargas’ extensive work (over 80 albums!) this is a great introduction to one of Latin America’s great singers. Or you could also watch a few Almodovar films…

Lucas Santtana Remix Nostalgia

Lucas Santtana’s Sem Nostalgia, released last year via the great Mais Um Discos imprint, received widespread acclaim for it’s dissection of Brazilian singer/songwriters’ reliance on the bossa nova lineage. Santtana took the lilting melodious guitar/singer combo, now synonymous with Brazilian music, and twisted into something fresh and electric, verging on the experimental. Electronica mixed with acoustic guitars, sweet vocals and found sounds.

Now a host of worldly remixes, including the likes of Deerhoof, AJ Holmes and The Hackney Empire and Glasgow legend JD Twitch (Optimo) have taken Sem Nostaglia’s excursions and splintered them even further. The 13 track album (tracklist after the break) is free to download and sits as a fitting response to Santanna’s musical questions, raised on Sem Nostalgia. Don’t look back!

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Makina – Gringas

New Makina is always welcome and this little collection is no different. Gringas is a mini EP of “Hipster Chicha, Tribal, Cumbia-Step and Beach Cumbia”, tropifiying Lana del Rey, Dillon, Gotye and Jenny Wilson. Four refreshing and really quality cuts of tropitastic pop AND you can download them for free below.