Album Review: Orkesta Mendoza – ¡Vamos A Guarachar! [Glitterbeat Records, 7th October 2016]

Laying down simmering slabs of cumbia and mambo, tempered with a folkloric, tex-mex psychedelic edge, Orkesta Mendoza brings you their latest album all the way from Tucson Arizona. Lead by musical polymath, Sergio Mendoza, who is also a member and co-producer of Southwestern music legends Calexico at the helm they are smashing down walls between the U.S and Mexico, heralding a borderless musical style that spans Northern, Central and South America by tipping a sombrero to ranchero, merengue, psychedelic pop and analogue electronica.

The opening track, and first single from the album, ‘Cumbia Volcadora’ featuring Camilo Lara (from the Mexican institute of Sound) takes you on a hip swivelling, psychedelic horn fuelled journey into the heart of Mexican cumbia and will have you twirling like a pollster on Election Day.

The album then meanders seamlessly, taking in a range of different styles, moods and rhythms which all combine to carry you on a journey through the dusty deserts of Mexico and the American South West. With intricate, layered, psychedelic sounds being the lifeblood of the album. Mendoza shows his many sides with tracks such as ‘Misterio’ with its haunting vocals and piano showing a tender side, to crazy fun-loving tracks like “Mapache” and ‘Contra La Marea’ with their upbeat, lo-fi electronica edge.

On first listen you could be thrown by the continuous changing styles of the album and be left wanting more of those tracks which really grab you, but it’s an album that grows on you. This collection seems to have everything but never too much of anything and the more you listen the more you can appreciate the intricacies of the songs and variety of styles.

It has been said that Sergio Mendoza has cumbia and mambo in his DNA, however he shows so much more in this album with so many other styles and the Calexico influences are still proving strong.

The live show will be something to behold with big band orchestration and lo-fi electronica thrown into the mix. They will be touring extensively in Europe during October and you can catch them at what will no doubt be an energy fuelled, high octane show at  Wahaca’s Day of the Dead event at The Vaults in London.