Tag Archives: World

Llorona Records’ Forward-Thinking Vision for Colombian Roots Music

Llorona Records

Eddy Johana Gómez describes her brother, Diego, as a shy “mouse in the studio” who also happens to be a talented musician and producer. As for herself, an arts administrator with studies in cultural sociology, she says she has “zero” musical talent—it’s all about doing the “boring” stuff, like spreadsheets and budgets. But together, Eddy and Diego are an unstoppable duo, and the 10th anniversary of their Llorona Records label is proof of that.

The siblings grew up in a musical family. Their father was in a folk trio and, according to Diego, some of their happiest moments as a family took place when their dad and his friends would sing traditional Colombian music together. Seeing that inspired Deigo to start playing the guitar; later, he made the decision to study sound engineering in Colombia, and then music production in Australia.

At the end of the ’90s, the Gómezes began to notice an “awakening” of sorts—their generation of musicians, producers, and arts administrators had grown up in the urban areas of Colombia, but they were all the first or second generation offspring of families who had emigrated from rural areas to the big cities. The siblings’ mission slowly began taking shape: to rediscover their roots music through the traditions of their ancestry.

Elkin Robinson

That realization occurred at the same time that musicians like Quantic and Sidestepper were garnering worldwide attention for their discoveries of Colombian roots music. The golden age of Colombian tropical music and its attendant record labels, which lasted from the ‘60s to the ‘80s, had disappeared in the face of commercialization and the influence of international pop. There were no record labels, says Diego, with a “coherent point of view” that could connect musical traditions in Colombia to a more contemporary musical language.

And so Llorona Records was born in 2007, with the goal of bringing together a high-tech approach with traditional roots music. The siblings named the label in honor of the “weeping woman” legend, a key piece of Latin American folklore.

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Chico Mann and Captain Planet: Night Visionaries

Chico Mann and Captain Planet

Chico Mann and Captain Planet by Azul Amarel

Known for their love of Latin funk, Afrobeat and Caribbean-inspired rhythms, LA-via-New York globetrotters Captain Planet (née Charlie B. Wilder) and Chico Mann (née  Marcos García) make quite the pair. Their first collaborative full-length, Night Visions, demonstrates their prowess at forging infectious tropical grooves to soundtrack nights full of endless possibilities. Buoyed by Wilder’s knack for funky, cross-continental beats, and García’s warm, lively croon, the duo crafts songs that could power dance floor activity into the wee hours, while also offering cunning socio-political commentary.

Take “Vamos A Batalla,” a glowing, multi-layered production that doubles as a call to action to create a better world. Over a backdrop of whirling pan flutes, the kuduro-inspired “Ya Te Toca” encourages all people to stand in solidarity with women. The xylophone-driven “Tumbo Paredes” argues for creativity as a way to resist oppression. “I try to be suggestive, rather than hitting you over the head with anything,” says Garcia, over the phone from his downtown LA studio. “I don’t feel like it has to be pedantic. It’s a matter of raising consciousness, and we can do that in a subtle way.”

We caught up with the pair, who enlightened us on what it means for them to embrace their personal night visions.

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Fawda Trio Brings Ancient Gnawa Traditions Into the Present

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Fawda Trio. Photo by Luca Sgamellotti.

Fawda Trio’s debut album is, in some ways, an unusual prospect. Building on the North African, ancient musical tradition of gnawa, it’s a music mostly listened to live—the krakab percussion’s thundering volume, paired with the simple, repeated basslines of the stringed guembri, have been honed over centuries to induce trance-like states in intimate, hours-long performances. Road to Essaouira translates those traditions onto record; channeling live gnawa’s meditative intensity, the album draws on outside influences—most audibly, jazz and hip hop—for a spiritually-minded focus guided by a wider musical approach.

Based in Bologna, the band are outsiders to gnawa culture. The northern Italian city has a fertile jazz and experimental scene, with each of them playing together in different projects over the years. Reda Zine, who—for Fawda Trio—plays an electric version of the guembri, is originally from Morocco. Hailing from Casablanca, it was only after moving abroad that he discovered an interest in his country’s traditional music. Before that, he was involved in a homegrown culture of abrasive, heavy metal bands, as documented in Mark Levine’s book, Heavy Metal Islam. But it was a a move to Paris changed his perspective.

“I started opening my eyes, because Paris is like London—it’s a big platform,” he says. “I started meeting with people from all over the world, and giving value to my own heritage.” Moving there in 1999, it was collaborating with Moroccan and French-Algerian bandmates—in acts like the Cafe Mira collective—that awakened an interest in music which, previously, hadn’t felt relevant to him.

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Scene Report: Rock in Bangkok, Thailand

Rock in Bangkok, Thailand

“It’s unpredictable. You never know when the police are going to turn up and then the party’s over.” — Tokin Teekanun

It’s not hard to find live music in Bangkok. From hotel lobbies and beer gardens to the tourist-choked Khao San Road, an acoustic duo performing questionable ’90s covers is never too far out of earshot. But if you want the good stuff, you need to look a little deeper. Even if the city’s nightlife remains in a state of constant flux, its musical output has never been so vibrant. The closure in recent years of live music hotspots like Sonic, Cosmic Cafe, and Harmonica left a sizable hole that has been filled by a new wave of small venues looking to blur the lines between art, music, drinking, and community.

Thanks to the air-conditioned ease of the BTS Skytrain, much of Bangkok’s nightlife still centers on Sukhumvit Road, especially the cosmopolitan Thonglor and Ekkamai neighborhoods. But pockets of cool can be found all over, from the makeshift house bars of Lad Phrao and the retro night markets of Chatuchak in the city’s north to the cultural regeneration taking over the riverside and Chinatown. The swelling number of small bars and performance spaces showcase what is ultimately a small but tight-knit community, and one that’s well worth exploring on any given night.

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