By Eva V. Tweet to @evahvargas
The Almost Punk New Salsa
You can feel it in the air, something is happening. It has been felt from Brooklyn hipster clubs up to the bares de Salsa in Cali, Colombia, where a genre that some pronounced dead in the nineties is coming back strongly.
The first sign of this I detected was on the last post of 2013 from my friend, the blogger Juan Data. I did not know if he had fallen into a serious depression or if he had hit his head. The fact is that his traditional list of the Best of the Year was headed by Lluvia con Sol from la Orquesta El Macabeo, of which Juan says: “”Are you f***ing serious? A salsa song is the best song of the year chosen by an outspoken salsa hater? How is that even possible? Well, it’s either that it was an extremely lame year and no other music managed to excite me as much as this, or I’ve experienced an inexplicable change of heart regarding the music genre that defines me by opposition. When I came up with Latin But Cool, it was meant as Everything Latin But… and the list of cheesy genres that followed was always preceded by salsa. I guess I’ve learned salsa can be cool too. This song at least, gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it and works great on the dance-floors as well.”
Ay wey, yes, something is happening. Of course it only took me 3 seconds to find Orquesta El Macabeo and two days to download all their 4 productions in digital format (proving that I’m not quite as impulsive as some may think).
What is happening in Puerto Rico and other places is a renaissance of a salsa vieja, as contradictory as it may sound. This is salsa full of mischief but with insight. A salsa that does not try to convince us that life is a Carnaval (without wanting to be blasphemous). This is the kind of salsa that tells stories to give surprises because sorpresas te da la vida. THIS is salsa, with a feel of the golden period, but reloaded.
The Macabeos, describe themselves as “rockers with guille (delusion) of salseros,” developing a unique perspective of salsa gorda. “Esto no es timba cubana, mucho menos pop latino, esto salio de Trujillo pa’ poner a bailar a este corillo” cantan en Swing. Y si, Lluvia con sol es una rolototota, pero Supermercado es hilarante con el coro más pegajoso de toda su Salsa Macabra: “El día está bonito y tú quieres hacer compras – ¡No me jodas!” (yeah, that’s part of the punk element I mentioned in the title of this article)
So this is it, a new shade of the old school is back with Macabeo.
But wait, there’s more …
Fast forward a Junio, casi Julio y helos aqui, desde Richmond, Virginia, Bioritmo, presenta Puerta del Sur, con 8 temas de sentir clásico pero sin anclarse en el ayer. Bioritmo da una lectura contemporanea de la salsa brava. “Tienen la intrepidez casi punk rock, lo cual impregna su actitud y estilo, lanzando sus discos ellos mismos o bajo las etiquetas alternativas de hip hop como Merge, Fat Beats y Electric Cowbell. Citan a Stereolab y a la música psicodélica de Brasil como influencias a la misma vez que la de Ray Barretto, Roberto Roena y los discos clásicos de Fania.” Cheque Ud y bajeselos ya. (Los discos, digo)
And here a taste