At Last, Argentina's Cumbia Digital Introduces Itself
It’s a match made in electronic music heaven. He is a collective of electronic producers doing weird and wacky things with cumbia in Buenos Aires. She is a well-respected US indie label best known for developing left-field groups like Danger Mouse and Gnarls Barkley. Now, everyone wants to know what the babies will look like.
Last year, Waxploitation announced it was partnering with ZZK to release the Argentinean label’s masterful cumbia digital into the wide world beyond blog hype and DJ accolades. Future Sounds of Buenos Aires is the first major fruit of this union, a 12-track compilation from across ZZK’s cumbiasphere that highlights work from the label’s principle artists.
The compilation contains many of the great bangers of nu-cumbia past. There’s “Hongo X Hongo” by Fauna, a rollicking cumbia/ragga with a killer synth lead. There’s Daleduro’s oozy sonic monster “La Poli,” as slimy and sexy as when it was first released in 2009. There’s the sumptuous chip-tune cumbia of Super Gauchin’s “Se Pixelo el Vinito,” and the shimmering “Malalmbo” by Tremor, which features folksy charangos meshed with growly bass synths and tumbling drums. It’s a good mix, highlighting the more accessible and dancefloor-friendly parts of the catalog.
The result is like a 101 class in the electro-roots revolution that has been simmering in Buenos Aires over the last four years. It feels very much in the vein of past “scene introduction” compilations such David Byrne’s The Soul Of Black Peru, which put Afro-Peruvian music on the map, or 1988’s Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit, which took a lose cadre of Midwestern producers and sold their sound to the crazed dance music fans of Europe.
The worrying part is that, with one or two exceptions, all of these tracks have been released before. Some recently, and others from as far back as 2009. It makes us wonder, is this is a preview or a retrospective? If the comp wishes to highlight a scene supposedly bursting with creativity, why rely so heavily on oldies-but- goodies?
So, will Future Sounds of Buenos Aires spark a global nu-cumbia takeover? It’s hard to say, but the compilation is solid, and Waxploitation does have the muscle to perhaps push ZZK to audiences out of its current “tropical bass” niche. For longtime ZZK fans: nothing new to see here. But if you are new to the party, then drink up my friend, for the nectar is sweet.
Waxploitation and ZZK have released a condensed teaser of the album on Soundcloud, check it out below.