Mixed Media: Music



by Bareto (World Village Records 091 CD, LP + download)

Unpredictable – that’s how the title of the fifth album from Peru’s Bareto translates. On this evidence, Impredecible finds the band in a fertile cross-cultural groove, including, on ‘El Loco’, a guest visit from peerless vocalist and compatriot Susana Baca. In short, this is a far cry from the band’s ska-heavy sounds of yesteryear, but it’s just as fun and, arguably, that much more punchy. Cumbia, as a dance style and rhythm, has always been a big area of Latin American music. It navigates African roots and Spanish or Portuguese-language vocals; each country in the region has its own individual stylings. It’s no surprise that an electronic, club-orientated techno-cumbia is out there. The one thing that makes cumbia so individual to groups and regions is its political expression: and here Bareto do not disappoint. The passive, mass culture engendered by television is in their sights on ‘La Pantella’ (‘The Screen’) and, given the joyfully mashed-up cumbia styles on show, you can hear a call for individuality and creative expression. Even when Bareto are in palpably foreign territories – ska is the rhythmical shading to the lovely textures of ‘Viejita Guarachera’ – it is on their own terms. There’s much to enjoy here: Baca’s glorious tones make ‘El Loco’ utterly irresistible, but so too do the oceanic waves of synth lines, weaving guitar and sand-shuffling percussion.

Rating: ★★★

mag cover This article is from the December 2015 issue of New Internationalist.
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