After a couple of cool EPs, Bogotá-based Ghetto Kumbé mark a half-decade of activity with a full album at last, and it does not disappoint. The trio has a decent pedigree (two of the three did tours of duty with longstanding Colombian export Sidestepper, for starters), and they travel this project’s trajectory, to the future by way of the past, with the surest of footing.
The sturdy drum dialogues of Juan Carlos “El Chongo” Puello and Andrés “Doctor Keyta” Mercado, electronically enhanced by Edgardo “El Guajiro” Garcés, digs down through cumbia and champete, through their Afro-Colombian antecedents, right back to some archetypal West African rhythms. The deep re-racination is in the service of a low-key Afrofuturism, cloaked in heavy humidity and an ultraviolet aura.
“Sola” rides an intriguing marimba motif, “Vamo a Dale Duro” is a haunting slice of equatorial house. Señors Chongo and Guajiro trade verses on the latter, checklisting class-conflict contentions. Amid the social struggles, one finds “Tambó”, which could be called post-romantic – surprisingly upbeat for a song about getting dumped. The sense of solitude is short-lived (less than 100 years, for sure), as a pair of tracks welcome women to the mics. The mesmerizing “Djabe” features Réunion Island vocalist Melanie’s lilting Île-de-Ré Creole, while the insistent closer “Lengua Ri Suto” is sweetened by the coastal drawls of Palenquero hip hop collective Kombilesa Mi.