We asked Colombian music journalist Cristian Herrera to dig into local scenes and give us some insights
Ecuadorian record label +también reflects on a selection of Latin American experimental music in detail. In words of Cristian, these artists offer a “decolonial reconfiguration” on sound and the ambient genre itself. Ecuador.
Words by Cristian Herrera
When reading its description on Facebook, the bet and purpose of the label are immediately captured: “También is Latin American experimental music. We aim at the undanceable, in order to get into their bedrooms, without them noticing”.
Conceived in the bowels of the Ecuadorian capital, También has become one of the most attractive sonic proposals in the current electronic landscape of Latin America. Under a premise in which synesthesia prevails over dance, this platform curated by Daniel Lofredo Rota –who also acts under the name of Quixosis– has been dedicated exploring the forgotten terrain of electronic music on the continent.
But it has been a genre in particular that has been mainly in charge of paving this path of sound experimentation, the same one that has motivated Daniel’s creative imagination through works signed by cult composers such as Susumu Yokota, Midori Takada or Pauline Anna Strom. “Ambient is an autonomous and very alive world”, assured Lofredo Rota in an interview published by Noisey in 2018, in which he also confesses the message he seeks to transmit with the label: the diversity of Latin America goes far beyond simple and plain references to “flavor, rhythm and fire machines”.
In this context, ambient becomes the guardian, protector and lighthouse that accompanies the break of waves that covers this afflicted continent: a decolonial reconfiguration bathed by these oceans of Latin American sounds.
Labels like También have made that the sound of Latin America can enjoy once again the sense of wonder, while allowing the boldest minds in experimental production to come out of their tiny hermetic bubbles to enter this incubator of legends, as they also like to be called.
To finish, Quixosis gives us a couple of firsts that will see the light in También throughout this second semester of 2020: second complete album by Zoroxxe (Quixosis + Joaquín Cornejo), works by Alex Hentze (Guatemala) and Nieves (Ecuador), and a cassette compilation with fifteen Latin American artists for November. Furthermore, Quixosis himself will release an EP on Brazilian label Frente Bolivarista, as well as an LP on his beloved También by the end of the year.
Hand in hand with Quixosis and +ambién, we decided to briefly review the present of Latin American ambient through these ten tracks:
Numa Gama – “Chapéu”
Album: Me Redesenho
Gama produces very interesting music, full of subtlety and a certain joy and peace. Sometimes this album reminds me of The Beatles, due to the presence of the voice and the vibe of knowing oneself without shame. Gama produces in a very unique way, she’s young and has a great future contributing to our collective Latin American scene. This album has components of ambient, meditative and spiritual music, but it doesn’t stop loading danceable energy for the dancefloor. Earlier this year we had the opportunity to release a meditative experiment that Gama did with frogs near Rio de Janeiro. I love the expressive freedom of this artist, I greatly admire that courage.
Susobrino – “La Marcha”
Album: La hoja de Eucalipto
Label: Rebel Up!
This Bolivian-Belgian producer is a master at using acoustic, percussive and string elements to create truly moving soundscapes. Furthermore, the rhythmic structures and vibes of his organic compositions are truly unique and particular.
Las Hermanas – “Convoy”
Album: El Pacto
The last record by Las Hermanas was released through También. The textures handled by Las Hermanas have always been warm and mesmerizing, but I feel that on this last album they reached a plateau of peace and self-reflection that marks a milestone in his musical production. The influences of hip hop on technique and method mix beautifully with the noise and sound warmth, giving us an album that blends in with everyday realities, thus infiltrating its philosophical questions, without one noticing.
LogarDecay – “Bare”
Label: Umor Rex
Leslie García is one of the most daring producers in Latin America. Originally from Tijuana, her work is really impossible to classify. Working with methods that always change, using new technologies and random processes to process and reinterpret sound data, for me Leslie is one of the persons I most like to follow. Her music always leaves me in doubt: I don’t understand how she does it, and that simply fascinates me. Leslie recently released her first full album under the pseudonym Microhm.
Monterrey / Nueva York
I like to follow Debit’s SoundCloud because she posts some ambient experiments that I really love. Debit is a very difficult producer to pigeonhole, which is doing some impressive things from NYC. I recently saw some previews of her new album, Perfume, but I can’t find them now. Of course, I want to bring it up so you can keep an eye on this one.
Multitud – “Vientos (Serious Mix)”
EP: Capitán Vientos
A small step of the exciting staircase that Costa Rica has been building over the past few years. From the unity of a Central American marginality, the tica ambient scene has been edified, in great measure, from its imposing natural landscapes. In the most recent EP by Sebas Fallas Moreira, the artist best known as Multitud, the winds of the thick jungle of Guanacaste, captured during a puma sighting in 2018, are molded in a way that is as peaceful as it is solemn. Ambient from the heart of the jungle, in the postal sense of the term.
Aeondelit – “Eternal Cycle”
EP: Editing Destiny
For those who closely follow the Latin American circuit, there is surely no doubt when it comes to highlighting the consistency of Insurgentes as a label and sonic hustle platform. With a diversity so characteristic of its beloved América Latina, the Colombian label has decided to immerse its latest release in the living depths of the volcanic belt of the Andes. “Eternal Cycle”, blessed by the mythical Nevado del Ruiz, is sonic contemplation in its purest state; divine magma that slowly bursts from the veins of a country in which suffering is already a cyclical state.
Ezmeralda – “Lágrimas de sangre II”
EP: Sin lanzar
Facing the vainglory that usually comes with today’s digital swarm, this enigmatic precious stone seeks to break through sad trails with a unique proposal that has been baptized as “farm ambient”. Bringing back the mystique of the muisca Bacatá, Ezmeralda has endeavored to collect soulless bodies from the cold savanna to turn them into true diamond suns. A first harvest is approaching, brought by a minstrel who gallops the highlands to the rhythm of sacred melodies and music for airports.
Miguel Isaza – “Transitar”
In the field of sound research in Latin America, the name of Miguel Isaza becomes the ideal starting point to get to know in depth the different faces that have sonically sculpted this region of the continent. Like ambient itself, Miguel becomes a figure without a need for prominence: immersed in the mountains of Medellín, Colombia, his transdisciplinary work has been piling up a vivid memorabilia of the genre from an epistemological and exploratory perspective. To celebrate a decade of sonic activism, Miguel invites us to walk under a present peace: one capable of inhabiting this world from the preciousness of silence.
Julián Moreno – “Primavera”
Label: Hoy Records x +ambién
As a result of a detailed exploration made at multiple texts written by Mexican intellectual Juan Rulfo, Albán became the first work of composer Julián Moreno on his own new label, Hoy Records, with a subsequently limited edition cassette on Latin American experimentation incubator +ambién. According to its creator, this multimedia performance groups the finiteness of being into four pieces, contemplating death and human mortality from different places. With “Primavera” the sensation is altered, and the impression of walking with Ryūichi Sakamoto through La Carolina park in Quito, or drinking tinto in Bogotá’s Parque Nacional, seems to be felt soon.