“Tropical Futurism from Bogota” is the USP of this album Voltaje Raizal (DISASTERS BY CHOICE LPNUY007) by the duo Rizomagic, an enjoyable and lively album of electronica in the “IDM” mode and remixes of same…the geniuses behind this are Diego Manrique and Edgar Marun, who are themselves members / directors of other related musical groups, Nino Pueblo and Dorado Kandua. It seems there’s a very active milieu in this part of Columbia just now, where techno and dance clubs have been thriving for many years, there’s plenty of hot vinyl-collecting action going down, and we’re also seeing the rise of a number of latter-day psychedelic bands and psychedelic dance music…bands such as Balthvs, Sonoras Mil, and Bomba Estéreo. As much as I might wish these combos to be a reincarnation of 1960s Columbian psychsters such as Los Speakers, or playing in the cumbian style, they probably aren’t; there’s a huge mix of cultures in Columbia for musicians to draw on, including Afro-Caribbean music, and a lot of these show up in today’s record. Voltaje Raizal includes “indigenous chants from the Embera people”, “traditional scales from Mali’s Bambara ethnic group”, and “Ghanian palm wine guitar”. I don’t feel remotely qualified to expand on any of the above strands and strains of musical culture, but the album is great fun, and promises many innocent hours of joyful dancing and cavorting. I see Eblis Alvarez did the mixing and mastering for it, and we loved that 2013 record on Staubgold by Meridian Brothers…for other signposts that have passed through these pages, see Ensamble Polifónico Vallenato, Klangwart, and Los Pirañas. From 11 January 2022.
Alpaca Ensemble, The Sky Opens Twice (PARTICULAR RECORDINGS COLLECTIVE P!38)
Norwegian trio of contemporary classical players joined by jazz sax player Eirik Hegdal who also composed most of the music, and Thea Ellingsen Grant who contributes lyrics and songs. Jazz mixed with classical, pop, beats, and improv….I’m really not sure what to make of this unusual set, and neither it seems are the musicians themselves, who start out describing this opus of 18 short pieces as “pop, experimental, contemporary” then simply blurt out, “Ah forget it, just listen!” at the listener. The creators are not only happy to mix genres, but also want to be held as both quite “serious” and also very “playful”. Some of the tunes are rather formless, others hop about from one place to the next like a restless grasshopper…the lyrics, when they appear, have a vaguely Dada-esque charm in their nonsensical phrasing, but I can’t get used to Grant’s mannered voice as she half-sings, half recites these inconsequential utterings, which may be banal or profound at the same time. Still, no denying her jejune enthusiasm every time she brings her effervescent personality before the microphone. This is the group’s 11th album. I sense that in their energetic quest for novelty and surprise, they seem to have overlooked what it was they were trying to say in the first place. (19/01/2022)