Watching a live performance by Meridian Brothers is a full on, theatrical, psychedelic affair which awakens all your senses. Their appearance from 2017 at TRC for instance, around the time of the release of their previous LP ¿Dónde Estás María?, became the stuff of legend.
The project from Eblis Alvarez, the creative mind behind Meridian Brothers has acquired something of a cult status, famed for its own unique take on a variety of Colombian genres, with keyboards and synths galore and a poppy-punky edge that is altogether mesmerising and slightly maddening.
The latest release, Cumbia Siglo XXI, is an intense 1980s-referencing take on Colombia’s most iconic genre, cumbia. Back then funky basses, disco and rock got invited to mix with ever evolving cumbia rhythms. Alvarez took this as a departing point and inspiration, using the modern media of today: drum machines, synths, softwares and a whole dose of craziness.
The move from Soundway to Bongo Joe seems to have added a punky attitude to these unorthodox experiments. The single ‘Cumbia Del Pichamán’, a bonkers cover of Dusty Springfield ‘Sound of a Preacher Man’, is fresh and hilarious even for non Spanish speakers. Another highlight is ‘Cumbia De La Fuente’ , a lovely mid tempo groove with lots of fuzzy, softly psychedelic sounds. Classic cosmic Meridian Brothers right there! Both these tracks would surely induce some serious moves on tropical and psychedelic orientated dance floors like BATB’s.
The track ‘Cumbia De Los Proletarios’ with its Klaus Nomi-esque vocals (!) closes the set in a suitably quirky fashion. Some of these experiments are arguably a bit dubious (like the fat synth swabs on ‘Puya Del Empresario’) but overall this is a real fresh and endlessly fun psychedelic take on cumbia. Peppered with mad rhythms, alien sounds and bizarre vocal harmonies there’s a lot of potential on Cumbia Siglo XXI for some interesting dance-floor shenanigans.
Listen to "Cumbia de la igualdad" here: https://tinyurl.com/re4p87uk