Live in Maracana, Sunsplash
by Carlos Reyes
If you attended any party during the ultra-fluorescent early years of The Hype Machine, chances are you danced or fornicated to the rhythm of the now departed Venezuelan sensation, Todosantos. We’re talking serious business here. Five years ago they were the band the middle-class cool kids were listening to, the DJ's best-kept secret, and the talk of the SXSW after parties. After the distressing Todosantos breakup, lead vocalist Alberto Stangarone went on to deliver the single best remix on El Guincho’s Antillas EP, eventually investing his prolific upbeat mayhem along Brazilian dancehall dissenter Clarissa Steed. Together they go by Sunsplash.
Two years ago they released their epically upbeat first single, “Fiera de Vinil,” and, ever since, fans have been eagerly awaiting a proper release. Live in Maracana is the closest they’ve gotten to releasing an album, but it’s not proper at all. Artists and labels that tend to masquerade mixtapes as legitimate releases are the same people that can’t tell the difference between an EP and a maxi-single. I’m pointing to about 90 percent of the self-governed urban pop labels out there, including our beloved half Venezuelan, half Tijuanense tropipop label, Cocobass. Having established my concerns with taking mixtapes too seriously, I’m beyond content with what’s accomplished in Live in Maracana. There’s so much oomph in this thing that they make the premise of bass and banana drums splashing the sun sound believable.
The main dish in Live in Maracana is a spectacular 22-minute steamrolling mix where the unlikely duo pitches a lifetime supply of club bangers, propulsive fusions, and proportionless dancefloor urgency. With inexplicable tracks like “Riva Starr Got Jacked” and “Supersupimpomatic” and superb remixes for Os Mutantes and Jovenes y Sexys, this mix is up there with M.I.A.’s dazzling Vicki Leekx, so radiant and so sweaty it will leave you wheezing. The only real drawback here is the inconvenience of such a lengthy number. I’d be surprised if anyone (who’s not a DJ) actually syncs the whole thing to his or her iPod. Lucky for us, three of the tracks find individuality with the help of some sharp remixers, including Cory Blaine and Jairomendez. This is not the reference album we’ve been waiting for, but it does make us shout, “OMG, they totally got it!”