Album review: ¡Vamos! Sonidos: Vol. 1, Hybrid Dimensions [¡Vamos!, 11th June 2016]

Hybrid Dimensions comes from the conception and necessity to break with stereotypic knowledge of Latin American music. Its boundaries go beyond those of the traditional Afro-Caribbean rhythms of popular music. The project represents another part of Latin American musical culture, and its objective is to clean those stereotypes and misconceptions of this genre. Nandy Cabrera (or Selector Chico), curator of the album, affirmed ‘I wanted to bring a broader view to the album, like a portal to another dimension album, a hybrid one in fact.’

Among the celebration of the Iberian American culture, the album was presented in the ¡Vamos! Festival 2016 held in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, from 8 to 12 June. Since then, the idea has been to ‘showcase leftfield expressions that defy strict genre-categorisation and go beyond the stereotypes usually associated with Latin American music’ (N. Cabrera).

The album comprises the music of twelve artists from seven countries (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, UK, and Uruguay). The musical style of the album exhibits genres such as cumbia, dub, electronica, experimental, psychedelic, folktronica, globalbass, nu-cumbia, and salsa. Each of the pieces in this album compilation forms part each artist in their own albums, EPs and singles. The album was mastered by Bruno Tortorella in his recording studio Espiral. One of the unique characteristics of the album is the contribution of the artist Bayrol Jiménez. His drawing for the cover of the album is part of a series of drawings on iconography and monuments to create another perspective of the idea of public space, based on imaginary structures and elements of Mexican urban life.

“Midnight Ritual” style, by the AV artist Panther Panther (Pablo Perezzarate), is related to the expanded cinema, visual music, Latin American electronic music and performance. The high energy of the piece can be described as a ‘bass-heavy soundtrack to further space exploration in times of darkness’. “Koralina” by BirdzZie belongs to the genre known as ‘ancestor futurism’. “Terror Latino” (Latin Fear), by Atlántico Negro mixes reggae, dub, afro-beat, hip-hop, milonga, tango and candombe. The heterogeneity of the group members has contributed towards developing the idea of an African culture entering US, the Caribbean and UK through the Atlantic Ocean.

“Huanaco”, by Barrio Lindo (Agustín Rivaldo), is an example of a search among Rivaldo’s own culture, folkloric melodies and South American rhythms that he explores as producer and luthier. “Dubarelho” of Pangolin Sounsystem is a characteristic electronic and experimental music that embraces other genres such as reggae, dub, gypsy jazz, and roots.

Selector Chico has included “Cuchillo”. The ‘asymmetrical humanoid,’ DJ Nandy Cabrera, son of political refugees, has taken his migration experience to represent an ambiguous and hybrid sensation in his music through different sources, eras and styles. His method of work is Dub, since he can manipulate the space-time and use subversive metaphors. The album includes “La Bendición de Herlinda” (Herlinda’s Blessing) by DJ Seizo. His style is a mixture made of beep, swing, Balkan and cumbia.

Sidirum’s “Vamos a unirnos (Let’s join us) represents a way to put into action all his influences, with tropical atmospheres, Latin vibes, and exciting narrative solutions. Through some touches of trap, chill and reggae, Ojo shares its piece “Humo” (Smoke). The last piece of the album, “Panorámico” (Panoramic) is by Joseph Ibrain, who in fact features Ernesto Romeo, a composer, synthesis, keyboardist, produces and music technology teacher. His music is influenced by a fused tradition and folklore, a diverse and psychedelic impact.

“Desorden en la Playa (Chaos on the Seaside), by the Argentinian Don Plok and “Solve y Coagula #3” by Franco Di Gregorius are both two bonus tracks in the album. It is cleared that these pieces were included by Selector Chico because of their political affinities. Both of them can be described as ‘meditations on post-colonial dancehall, ancestral realms of electronic ethnodelica, surreal soundscapes experienced in subtropical/industrial no-zones, Afro-Latin descentralised beat-scapes abd dub politics.’

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