ONDATRÓPICA – Ondatrópica (2012)

Review by: A.A
Album assigned by: Nicolás Martínez


I am afraid before attempting to truly review this album I (and the reader alike in time) will have to go through a crash course in Latin music genres 🙂 … Just look at its RYM page: Cumbia, Vallenato, Afro-Cuban Jazz, Latin Rap, Champeta… I could say this is the kind of music they call “exotic” and leave it at that, losing an ounce of self-respect for being so clueless. Though still, while being no expert, I’d have to content myself describing it very generally, hopefully actually doing the similarly-novice among the readers a small service…
The album starter “Tiene Sabor, Tiene Sazón“ is a jaunty, bouncing tune extremely well-suited for kicking off whatever festivities they have over in the Latin world (and I hear they have many), the feel and vibe naturally segueing into “Punkero Sonidero”.
“I Ron Man” is where I was suddenly taken aback: despite the name I could not divine aforehand it was a Latin music cover of Black Sabbath’s namesake track. Suffice it to say it works, and works well. Probably quite as well as a surreptitious slip into party people’s diet regimen to slowly prepare them for end-of-the-world doominess of the original, if they can’t take it firsthand.
“A female rapper rapping over the Latin equivalent of a klezmer” were my first impressions of “Suena”, the follow up track. “Locomotora Borracha” which literally translates into Spanish as “drunk locomotive” does indeed sound like a drunken motorcade through decorated streets in a Latin funland. Ignore the kind of electronic music the term IDM actually stands for today; “Remando” is what I’d describe as truly “intelligent dance music”: it’s easy on the ears yet still quite cerebral.
“Linda Mañana“ is another festive number with a bit of a dramatic flair, featuring vocals by someone anonymous, not a single word uttered by whom I can understand (well, I can understand “La Madonna”…) but can sense the dexterity of his wordplay.
“Ska Fuentes” is, as the name indicates, a ska – embellished with horns and reminiscent somewhat of classical-era Bollywood music (that being the only point of comparison I have). “3 Reyes de la Terapia” is the odd one out – throaty vocal effects over intermittent doses of… some kind of lambada music (a la Sun City Girls’ “The Shining Path”)? It seems that way to me, lol. “A creeping beat-box fever dream wreathed in dubby echo,” is what another site describes it as, and I don’t think I can top that description.
Epic horns reappear in “Bomba Trópica” and “Descarga Trópica” is replete with a Caribbean island feel. “Libya” features some exotic kind of horns/wind instruments. “Gaita Trópica” is back into happy-go-lucky party dance territory; “Curro Fuentes” is, from what I understand, a “big-band cumbia” … to my naive ears it just sounds like a soaring melange of a large number of Latin musicians doing their thing, and very competently.
“Rap Maya” is again a strange kind of rap over some exotic accordions or maybe reed-pipes that has a very “snake-charming” feel to it. Up next is “Dos Lucecitas”, Latin-jazzy with female vocals, followed by “Cumbia Especial”, a beautiful piece (cumbia again, but no big-band setting this time) which reminds me a bit of Cat Mother & The All Night Newsboys’ “Marie”.
“Donde Suena el Bombo” made me feel proud because I could immediately detect one of the the main instruments – a marimba. It has a marching rhythm and the dance vibes that are ubiquitous on the album. The album ends with “Swing de Gillian”, a somewhat sombre piece that sounds like an elegy to more an end of a good party than a human being, given its setting and sound.
Because all good things must eventually come to an end. Unless the next time arrives for popping out this charming piece of Latin exotica and having some fun again.

Author: tomymostalas


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