Over the past couple of months, I’ve written quite a bit about Bogota, Colombia-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, Eblis Alvarez, who’s perhaps better known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed, forward-thinking cumbia act Meridian Brothers. Now, as you may recall, Meridian Brothers newest album Cumbia Siglo XXI is salted for an August 21, 2020 release through Bongo Joe Records — and the album, which is the highly-anticipated follow-up to the act’s critically applauded (and largely acoustic) ¿Dónde estás María? continues the Colombian artist’s long-held reputation for restlessly pushing his sound and approach in new and radical directions whenever possible.
Largely inspired by Cumbia Siglo XX’s experimentation with traditional cumbia in the late ’70s and early ’80s, which led to a completely new form of the genre, Cumbia Siglo XXI sees Alvarez using a multitude of guitars, synths, algorithmic software, vintage drum machines and whatever tech that the acclaimed Colombian artist could get his hands on. The end result is material that seemingly draws from Kraftwerk, while blending EDM “sidechain” techniques and traditional cumbia.
I’ve written about two album singles so far: “Puya del Empressario,” an infectious yet let field take on cumbia that sounded a bit like like The Man Machine-era Kraftwerk meets JOVM mainstay El Dusty with a mischievous sense of adventurousness — and “Los Golpeadores de la cumbia,” a mischievous synthesis of chip tune, electro pop and cumbia that came from the Island of Misfit Toys. The album’s latest single “Cumbia de la fuente,” is a yearning and plaintive track centered around strummed acoustic guitar, glitchy synths and glitchier drum machines and Alvarez’s aching vocal delivery. And while sounding as though it came from some incredibly dystopian future — one just as hellish as our own — the song conveys a sense of hope for something beyond this.
“‘Cumbia de la fuente’ is a stopping point of the whole theme of the record, both in lyrics and in sound concept,” Meridian Brothers’ Alvarez says in press notes. “rThe song is a prayer and an amulet, a search for something that modern human beings are not used to do, due to mechanisation and modern industrial societies. A scream to the nowhere, looking for some answer, which is not given by scientific fetichism nor the political argument, nor the philosophic reason.”
The recently released video for “Cumbia de la fuente” features some trippy and brightly colored drawings that seem inspired by an intense hallucinogenic trip.