The text accompanying XLR8R's Chancha Vía Circuito podcast begins "no matter how you feel about cumbia digital." For many RA readers, how you feel about the genre is limited to a single song, Samim's "Heater," which famously sampled a cumbia classic and adorned it with a bouncy tech house beat. But among those in the know, the debate is heated stuff: There are a few that predictably object to the fusion of modern sounds to classic recordings of indigenous South American music. (A debate similar to ones had about the ethnic samples currently littering some of house music's most popular productions.) Others find that the problem—unlike other world musics—is that it's too repetitive and, well, kinda boring.
As Mexican producer Toy Selectah has proven via his upbeat remixes of artists like Vampire Weekend, Justice, Boys Noize and others, half the joy of cumbia digital comes from the fact that it is repetitious. Boring, of course, is in the ear of the beholder. But it's hard to believe that a genre that spawns someone as brash as Selectah and as delicate as Vía Circuito, AKA Pedro Canale, can be painted with any one brush. Canale's Río Arriba sounds like the last thing that Major Lazer would drop in a set at Notting Hill Carnival—unless Skerrit Bwoy was there to add the necessary flash.
Río Arriba is more concerned with crafting aural magical realism at somewhere right around 70 BPM. Just look at the cover: The flautist is surrounded by an idyllic landscape, and he is playing a rainbow. Machismo, Red Bull, aggression. It doesn't even enter into the equation. The source material that Canale digs up is self-consciously beautiful—native music touched by dub, straightened out for the sole purpose of being able to play it on a soundsystem that deserves it.
Canale's closest analogue in the house and techno world is probably Nicolas Jaar. He seems to be working within a genre, but is not really of the genre. In an interview with stinkinc he speaks of typically playing the opening or closing set at parties. That's no surprise. The loping drum loops he crafts on the title track or his remix of Miriam García & Alicia Solans' "Pintar el Sol" drag so much that you feel like you're in a drug-induced haze, as if you've put the record on at 33 instead of 45. It's a wonderful effect, and Río Arriba is a wonderful album that is currently only available in Argentina. Figure out a way to get your ears to it.
Tracklist: Chancha Vía Circuito - Río Arriba01. Jose Larralde – Quimey Neuquen (Chancha Via Circuito remix)
02. Chancha Via Circuito – Cumbion de la saves
03. Miriam Garcia & Alicia Solans – Pintar el Sol (Chancha Via Circuito remix)
04. Chancha Via Circuito – Rio Arriba
05. Chancha Via Circuito – Prima
06. Chancha Via Circuito feat. Fauna – La Revancha de Chancha
07. Chancha Via Circuito – Puente
08. Chancha Via Circuito – Deportes
09. Figura – Ze Bula (Chancha Via Circuito remix)
10. Chancha Via Circuito – Amelia
11. Tremor – Caracol (Chancha Via Circuito remix)