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.