Balún is a band from Puerto Rico with an acute sense of creating ethereal moments of the sad kind. Could the tropigoth tagline apply? As sunset approaches on the Summer of Love 2016 (a cosmic event that last took place during the tumultuous social uprisings of 1967) the Brooklyn-based via Borinken four-piece return by making ripples across waters with a trademark sound they call dreambow. Incorporeal dream-pop, techno, shoegaze, folkloric sounds of South America, & dembow (one of reggaetón’s rhythmic daughters) are the amalgamation of the band’s idiosyncratic soundscape. A formula that after almost 7 years since Balún’s first contribution to Club Fonograma has stood the test of time.
With Afro Caribbean sounds like tipple, bomba barrel drum, dembow & a hazy, humid sense of a transcendent melancholy at work, “La Nueva Ciudad” joins the cannon of unorthodox, reggaetón-based classics of late. The sonic transmutations of established greats like J Balvin, Arca, Gepe, Javiera Mena & newcomers like MULA, Coral Casino, & Tomasa del Real have been expanding our understanding of the infinitely mesmerizing possibilities of the genre. Even Ibiza Pareo expressed interest in flirting with reggaetón during their Ruido Fest showcase in Chicago this summer. Clearly, our collective sonic future still belongs to the iconic, Afro-Caribbean sound.
Balún’s return feels accomplished, academic and ancestral. The chorus of “La Nueva Ciudad” invokes collective rapture (the spiritual power of reggaetón at work here) while Angélica Negron's vocals communicate intimacy & distance, discussing the circular nature of time, planets, & the need to create a city without mirrors. The prolific percussionist/producer Lawson White (Shakira, Wilco, Jamie xx) has been working behind the scenes with Balún, whose current lineup boasts PhD ethnomusicologist and Puerto Rican folk music expert Noraliz Ruiz (playing cuatro and on “La Nueva Ciudad”), Raul Reymundi, along with veteran players Angélica Negron & José Olivares. It would seem as though Balún have become curators of globopop. “La Nueva Ciudad” is the lead single from the forthcoming Prisma Tropical LP which is due in 2017. Listen to it below and its b-side, “Esta En Tus Manos,” a cover of the pioneer of indietronica reggaetón herself, Javiera Mena.