Bomba Estéreo, our favorite purveyors of psychedelic cumbia dance party fun, are back with a new album this summer called Elegancia Tropical, and they invited MTV Iggy into to the studio a few weeks ago to take a listen to some fresh-out-of-the-oven tracks. Check out our in-studio video interview here.
At a tucked-away studio in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, we sat down with Li and Simon to listen to the un-mastered album. Much of the sound from their American 2009 debut Blow Up! is still there — a tasty mix of reggae guitar chops, ambient synthesizers, and fiery Afro-Colombian percussion. But with Elegancia Tropical, Bomba Estéreo takes a big step in the direction of the electronic music scene as well. Those cumbia beats are now beefed up with big, four-on-the-floor club beats and dubstep-worthy wobbles. There’s also an infusion of hard-driving champeta, the Colombian take on West African guitar pop popular in the Caribbean coastal region.
When the album drops, look out for tracks like “Pure Love,” a clubby tune with a classic house sound. Another memorable track was “Pajaros,” in which bird-like electronic flutters slowly build into a cumbia climax with pulsing waves of weird, detuned glissando synths. “El Alma y El Cuerpo” is a slow and grooving champeta-ish tune with picked guitar riffs. Plus there’s special guest features from Brazilian rapper MC Benegao and Portugal’s kuduro stars Buraka Som Sistema.
When we spoke with Li and Simon, they said they were not originally planning on going in this electronic direction on their second album, but traveling around the world and playing shows brought them deeper into the electronic scene. Li says she was thinking a lot about spirituality on this album – the connection of cumbia to ancient African and indigenous religions and the connection between music, drum, dance, and trance. In related news, she also told us about her first time tripping on the traditional Amazonian hallucinogen ayahuasca for our “Story Time” series – make sure you check that out, here.