The summer folktronica album we need to lift our spirits and set them free.
Deja has taken four years to gestate since Bomba Estéreo’s last album and it is also an album divided into four elements. Agua, Fuego, Aire and Tierra – the four elements of the world. Interestingly the album mixes and matches the elements across them – they aren’t brigaded into sections. That makes for an album that gives the Colombian alternative dance creators a wide palette to play with. Its dynamic and proud use of heritage and national instrumentation and voice ensures this is a dance album you can dive deep into.
Mixing together Caribbean beats with Columbian folktronica is an absolute winning combination and this album radiates energy, positivity and action. A thread throughout the album is that the four elements need us as humans to reconnect with them and look after our planet so it looks after us. That allows the beats and rhythms to ride with gravitas as you dance or foot tap with your hair down. The instrumentation grounds the beats and more electronic elements of the music too, ensuring it feels natural and technological at the same time.
So many tracks stand out on their own due to the global feel of it. ‘Conexion Total’ features Nigerian vocalist Yemi Alade, complex woodwind arrangements, Caribbeat rhythms and an MLG foghorn. Then you have deep house moments with ‘Tamborero’ with proud, rallying vocals and huge drums that feel retro relevant to the dance scene. Want something more sublime and chill? ‘Lento’ has you covered with suave guitars and a pounding slower beat, or ‘Tierra’, that mixes polyrhythms with the lightest of electric keyboards and call and response vocals. ‘Ahora’ instead brings a Colombian pop classic steeped in catchy vocal melodies, bird songs, ocean waves and a wide range of drums. The way Bomba Estéreo mixes the old and new together is a triumph.
Whilst there are no weak links in the album at all, a couple of songs edge out as personal favourites. ‘Agua’ and ‘Deja’ hit different highs for different reasons. The former has a swing to its sadness and Lido Pimienta guest vocals fit the mood perfectly. The latter is one of the best examples of folktronica I’ve heard in years. Everything from the guitar solos, beats and vocal riffs just makes me want to celebrate and let my hair down. ‘Se Acabo’ is like Sade having a trance festival. ‘Como le Pedi’ features Leonel Garcia whose Mexican flair pairs beautifully with the wooden percussion and acoustic guitars. It reminds me heavily of Stromae.
Bomba Estéreo has made a stunning album. You can dance, celebrate, think, unite, and contemplate but most of all you’ll feel a connection to it. The themes are strong, the melodies and beats equally so. It feels so effortlessly slick and accomplished but there is so much Bomba Estéreo are balancing. From the traditional instruments to the synths to the guest performers to the recorded sounds – yet it all fits together seamlessly. That is a true accomplishment of a music producer working with so many diverse sounds and thoughts. This is 2021’s summer album that I can play any time of the year and bring Summer back to me.
Recommended track: Deja
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