Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Novalima 'Planetario' Review

Artist: Novalima

Title: Planetario

Label: Wonderwheel 


Released: 16th of June

In Mark Hudson's book 'The Music In My Head' the main character Andrew 'Litch' Litchfield an arrogant world music producer, promoter and publicist states something along the lines of 'A lot of people say they know African music, they probably have 10 or 12 albums in their collections, whereas I really know African music.' I definitely lean towards the former not only in African Music but Latin as well. I've been aware of the big guns Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri and the Bueno Vista Social Club for many years. The internet allowed me to explore many other artists old and new and the newer genres generated in the Latin and South American region. However, the bulk of these artists are from Brazil or Cuba and I'm not the greatest at identifying and pigeon holing some of those. So when it comes to Novalima who fuse traditional Afro-Peruvian music (a blend of Peruvian, African and European music itself) with electronica, dub-reggae, hip-hop and other vibes that grab their ears, I recognise sounds from Batucadas, Samba & Salsa which may already be an established part of the Afro-Peruvian music already for all I know. Bearing that in mind I'm going to have a bash at reviewing their latest offering.

The release has been compiled over the last two years, mostly on tour and features plenty of collaborations both locally and internationally. For example in Columbia a recording session was initiated by members of La-33 and included Eka Muñoz (Sidestepper) Pernett & La Mamba Negra adding additional Latin flavours to the mix. The first single to be released from the album is the opening track 'Como Yo' a tribute to Peruvian percussionist and long time band member Mangue Vasquez who passed away in 2014. The track will be released both as a 7” vinyl and digitally on May the 17th.

The tracks certainly blend an alluring and danceable mixture of female and male vocals, African drum rhythms, guitars, pan-pipes, horns and electronica. At times reminiscent in drum style of the Batucadas in 'Beto Kele' for instance or Manu Chao vocally in 'Mi Canto' and 'Copa de Manana' while 'Hoy Dia' fuses Soulful vocals, jazzy piano keys and Latin percussion. However, as much as I enjoyed the vocals and intense drum work throughout the album I struggled to ascertain a clear favourite. Although, the sultry female vocals interwoven with deep breathy almost beatbox-like male counterpart and the general housey bounciness of 'Madretierra' possibly edged it.

I remember the James Taylor Quartet stating they packed out venues with their live shows yet struggled to sell recordings (which surprised me as I enjoyed both) I wouldn't go as far to say this is the case with Novalima (considering they've released music with ESL and Wonderwheel as well as receiving great press in the past from the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Metro & the Guardian). However, I'd imagine they're music is best experienced live and they've graced the stages of the Montreal Jazz Festival, WOMAD & NYC Central Park to name a few.

Reviewed by Woodzee.


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