New Video: Orkesta Mendoza Returns with a Playfully Psychedelic Take on Cumbia

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Tucson, AZ-based collective Orkestra Mendoza. And you may recall that the collective led by the Nogales, AZ-born and raised Sergio Mendoza (vocals, keys, guitars, drums, percussion, programming and horns) and featuring Salvador Duran (vocals), Sean Rogers (bass, vocals), Marco Rosano (sax, clarinet, trombone, keys and guitar), Raul Marques (vocals) and Joe Novelli (lap steel guitar) have developed a reputation for a sound that draws from the musical traditions of both sides of the US and Mexican border; in fact, as a child Mendoza grew up listening to cumbia, mambo, rancheras, mariachi, rock ‘n’ roll, pop and others, and those various genres have influenced Mendoza and his work with Orkestra Mendoza.

There was a point within the collective’s history in which they had moved completely away from the Latin styles Mendoza had grown up with, as they spent close to 15 years focusing on rock — that is until the band’s 2012 Joey Burns (of Calexico) co-produced effort,  Mambo Mexicano, which was largely considered a return to their original sound. (That collaboration was so fruitful that Mendoza has become a frequent touring member of Caleixco furthering the connection between the two very different acts.)

Now, as you may remember “Caramelos,” featuring Salvador Duran was the first single off the collective’s recently released album ¡Vamos A Guarachar!, and unsurprisingly the single managed to capture the act’s signature, genre mashing style –enormous tweeter and woofer rocking beats and synths, organ, twangy pedal steel guitar, a bit of mariachi, a bit of mambo, a bit of cumbia, a bit of flamenco, a bit of this and a bit of that are employed in a stomping dance floor-friendly song that manages to be familiar and alien and mischievously difficult to pigeonhole. And much like the work of a newer JOVM mainstay like El Dusty, this particular track should remind listeners and readers that arguably some of the most sonically inventive club banging music is coming from those who grew up in close proximity to the American-Mexican border.

The album’s latest single “Cumbia Volcadora” is a collaboration with renowned Mexican electronic music pioneer Camilo Lara is a swaggering, riotous and subtly modern take on the classic cumbia sound that kind of nods at Rob Base’s and DJ E-Z Rock‘s “It Takes Two” thanks to a series of distorted vocal samples, El-Dusty’s “Cumbia Anthem” but with a psychedelic flair — and paired with a band playing one of the funkiest and tightest grooves I’ve heard in recent memory.

As for the recently released video is a wild visual collage of styles including animation,  black and white footage of dancer dancing to the song, people wandering around and purchasing goods at a local market and of the band playing but superimposed with cartoon drawn masks, as well as homages to old movie posters and record art. And in some way it emphasizes the psychedelic nature of the song.

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