Blow Up, Bomba Estereo

Nacional Records, Colombia
Rating: 78
By Carlos Reyes

Bomba Estereo’s first release comes into the market fully armed by “Fuego”, a song that is bound to become a hit; I’m not exactly how long it will take for it to expand its flame, if it doesn’t it, it might be the sign to let us know that radio isn’t quite ready for Cumbia to take over reggaeton. It only takes a single spin to meet “Fuego” not only as an atomic bomb (as the track suggests) but as a massive power plant of rhythms ready to explode, and it does reach a climax like few songs have this year, or last year. It’s not only furious; it simulates fire by seizing speed and volume (you would probably dance this part down close to the floor), the strong will get up with the beat on fire, while the weak are not entirely lost as the track is generous enough to have an energized comeback near the end.

Blow Up is a lot more than just a one darling-song album; it’s a confident showcase of afrobeats, champeta and cumbia, it’s the first Colombian act to really breakthrough since neo-cumbia sneaked in (considering Sidestepper has never really internationalize). They had the warmest reception out of all the performing ‘latin’ acts at this year’s SXSW, rising comparisons with Calle 13 in particular, the sound is clearly at distance but both acts share a need to make things sound big and ironically recruit Caribbean rhythms to get there. I feel Bomba Estereo is closer to an emerging line of acts with female leads that are seriously dominating Latin urban music: Choc Quib Town, Niña Dioz, and Rita Indiana y Los Misterios. Other bleak immediate party starters include the sexy and electrying perreo “La Boquilla”, and the highly textured “Juana” which steps into the very pleasing sound of The Very Best (Esau Mwamwaya + Radioclit).

Songster Liliana Saumet is driven by customized lyrics that sometimes get lost in tempo, but luckily she’s got great company, the band is up there with Monareta and Kinky when it comes to instrumental complexity and creativity. In fact, there are two instrumental tracks here “Camino Evitar” and “Palenke” that are very easy to visualize, too pretty to sweat on them but nonetheless serve as refreshments. The last peak of the album is actually its conclusion; “Raza” undresses the most honest aspirations of the group, gets into political ground, “que te quejes y no hagas nada es lo que me molesta”, and brings in one of the best lines of the year “me gusta la cumbia porque es sencilla.” It’s not an easy genre at all, but we get the message, it’s music from the heart to the people.