Cumbia Cumbia
April 20, 2011 9:44 AM   Subscribe

"Cumbia is one of the world's great dance grooves. It is made up of merry guitars and accordions, torrid brass, and insistent, deep-toned drums and percussion, pounding out a lopsided, strutting 4/4 rhythm with a kick like nitroglycerine. Cumbia is the result of three colliding cultures that settled in Colombia at different times. Indigenous peoples were followed by the Spanish conquistadors, who added on Moorish influences from the sack of Granada. Finally, African slaves were brought in, and they supplied both the rhythm and the means to bring it forth. From its beginnings as a courtship dance among the slave population, cumbia gradually became the soul of the entire nation." PRI's The World asks, which do you prefer, Cumbia old or Cumbia new? For Cumbia old the list is long: Amaneciendo! :: Cumbias En Moog "Cumbia De Sal" :: Cumbia Sampuesana :: Pedro Laza - Cumbia del Monte :: Gabriel Romero - La Subienda :: Cumbia plegaria :: Soledad - Lucy Gonzalez :: La Zenaida :: For Cumbia new start here: Chancha via Circuito and then check out the ZZK Mix Tapes: Fauna Megamix :: Tremor :: King Koya
posted by puny human (24 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
All I know about Cumbia I learned from maybe three Los Lobos songs, but I love 'em. Thanks!
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:00 AM on April 20, 2011

Good stuff. Although Cumbia began in Colombia, most of the newer, more inventive stuff (as mentioned in the PRI link), is coming from Argentina. Both Chancha via Circuito (interview here with US tour dates) & ZZK are from Buenos Aires.

A lot of the Argentine Cumbia has its roots in Cumbia Villera which came from the villas (slums) around Buenos Aires and takes it influences more from Peruvian and Bolivian Cumbia, than the original Colombian stuff.
posted by jontyjago at 10:02 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


While it seems that the peak has passed (it was big in 2008), I still really enjoy "neo-cumbia," like the stuff from ZZK, and the short-lived Bersa Discos series was good.

On the side of "Cumbia old," Quantic has done quite a bit in recent years, and has a mixtape or two that get into the sound.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:05 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

I call dibs on a Nortec FPP, which I consider to be the prior wave of Latin American traditional music blended with electronic styles.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:08 AM on April 20, 2011

Wapi! Wapi! After a summer in Argentina a few years ago, an old friend turned me onto Damas Gratis. Fumancheros!!
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 10:21 AM on April 20, 2011

love me some cumbia. thanks for this post.

DJ Rupture did an excellent mix of cumbia a couple years ago for BBC 1, available for the listening/download at his Soundcloud page.

And here's a great video of Rupture giving "a nice introduction to the frustratingly complex and head-spinningly colossal world of cumbia, with some cool footage of a San-Fran piracy den he frequents when sourcing out these kinds of beats. He also learns how to recognise Kung-Fu Panda."

(filthy light thief: i will be looking forward to your Nortec post)
posted by jammy at 11:09 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

As a white middle class Mexican, son of well educated and travelled professionals, I was not supposed to like cumbia. I secretly loved cumbia. And mexican wrestling.

Back in the time were minibus drivers were free to decorate their buses and play their own music there were several cumbieros on the 635 route. My favorite bus had deep blue tinted windows, tropical wallpaper, tons of coconut scented air fresheners and a killer sound system. If I got this bus I would ride the full circuit, often being an hour or two late to school.

By college (the 90's) it had become the iliac crest of hip to be into Cumbia and Mexican Wrestling and other expressions of popular culture. It is the only time I've been ahead of the curve, and it felt great to say that I liked cumbia and wrestling before you ever heard of it.

I was friends with some of the Nortec people from Tijuana when they were studying in Guadalajara, and I even did some web design for Nopal Beat, Guadalajara's answer to Colectivo Nortec. Their music jus makes me happy, and the parties were very very good.

I am so happy that such all the good old cumbia songwriters and musicians are getting recognition now. I wish a Buena Vista Social Club kind of fortune to many of the forgotten ones.

As a bonus "Los Luchadores" performed by Conjunto Africa, composed by a memeber of La Sonora Santanera. A cumbia about famous Mexican Wrestlers: El Santo, El Cavernario, Blue Demon and El Bulldog.
posted by Dr. Curare at 11:09 AM on April 20, 2011 [5 favorites]

yeah, most of what I know about cumbia comes from DJ/rupture - I've plugged it before on here but doesn't hurt to again - his excellent radio show/podcast Mudd Up! on wfmu
posted by mannequito at 12:24 PM on April 20, 2011

Just dropping in to say that Geko Jones and Uproot Andy have been holding down this scene in NYC. I've only been once, but the Qué Bajo?! that I went to was out of control.
posted by hue at 12:45 PM on April 20, 2011

more: a nice mix of old+new cumbia from the Bersa Discos crew...

and a weird one from DJ Linterna, who, among other things, spins cumbia for ice skaters (which is weird, and awesome).
posted by jammy at 1:26 PM on April 20, 2011

Great post! I'm still catching up on this stuff, but wow, it's making me happy.

Here's and interesting interview -- and an amazing mix -- from Mario Galeano Toro of Frente Cumbiero.
posted by neroli at 2:38 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fantastico in-thread links :) Gracias everyone.

I had the mods add one I had missed to the cumbia old list -- La Zenaida from Armando Hernandez.

Most of the old cumbias I listed I found using these two old collections Cumbia Cumbia and CumbiaCumbia 2, which as you can see are damn pricey. I looked for some d-load links but came up empty, but I'm sure that someone more familiar with torrents and such could get what they need. I've compared them to other compilations and think they are still the best out there.

When putting the post together, almost all the songs I was searching for I found at this you tube page, huge collection with original cover art and excellent versions, but they were all recorded at the wrong speed, on a slow turntable. Seems like an awful lot of work to upload all those songs and have them all at the wrong speed.
posted by puny human at 6:23 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

mmmmmm "Chancha via" is very nice. Thanks.
posted by ropeladder at 7:23 PM on April 20, 2011

Just to toot my horn a bit, a cumbia track I did was on the DJ/Rupture comp, New York Tropical.

You can listen to it on my Soundcloud.

Chancha via Circuito is on point, he's currently on tour in the United States... I recommend you check him out.
posted by cloeburner at 10:19 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

And, just to take things in my own direction, I give you Cumbia and Jazz Fusion.
posted by mykescipark at 11:58 PM on April 20, 2011

One of my favorite comps from last year was Cumbia Beat vol. 1 released on Vampi Soul. Esta bueeena la cumbia!
posted by nikoniko at 12:50 AM on April 21, 2011

Ooooh, this is sooo tasty! Thanks for posting. This stuff gets your butt moving.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:43 AM on April 21, 2011

ropeladder: mmmmmm "Chancha via" is very nice. Thanks.

cloeburner: Chancha via Circuito is on point, he's currently on tour in the United States

Yes, the artist's full stage name is "Chancha via Circuito," and you can stream the whole album + check tour dates here. He's touring with Tremor, who I think is rather similar to CvC (their album is the same odd mix of original tracks and remixes, though in this case, there's only two original tracks).

See also ZZK's complete collection of free mixtapes (up to volume 11 at the time of posting, 10 of which are also on ZZK's YouTube profile), and ZZK's Soundcloud page, where they have complete albums and EPs streaming.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:58 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

filthy light thief that was the tour from last year... his current tour itinerary can be seen on his facebook.
posted by cloeburner at 11:22 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

cloeburner: nice one! toot that horn!

filthy light thief: muchas gracias for the link to the ZZK free mixtape collection - my brain went "whee!" when i saw that page of mixy goodness.
posted by jammy at 2:41 PM on April 21, 2011

Thanks filthy light thief. I had meant to link ZZK records in the fpp under cumbia new, but forgot. I swear, being a somewhat slow typist, sometimes when I am in the middle of a link intensive post and feeling overwhelmed with the number of open windows and trying to get it all organized, I think to myself, "I really wish I had filthy light thief's linking skills." :)
posted by puny human at 3:59 PM on April 21, 2011

Wow, this post is literally the first time I've liked Cumbia.
posted by klangklangston at 5:06 PM on April 21, 2011

day late, but I set up a youtube playlist of the linked videos (in order) here
posted by $0up at 7:02 PM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

puny human: I think to myself, "I really wish I had filthy light thief's linking skills." :)

Infogluttony is a curse. I realize it's best when you can convey more with less (but goodness, there is just SO MUCH OUT THERE). Plus, MeFites will usually bring more goodies that you didn't think about or pull out connections you missed.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:46 AM on April 22, 2011

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