English DJ/producer Will Holland (aka Quantic) relocated to Colombia in 2007, and the result has been a flurry of worthy cumbia-related projects that include a wide-ranging historical compilation (The Original Sound of Cumbia) and Los Miticos del Ritmo,Holland’s faux-vintage cumbia cover band. Now comes OndatrÃ³pica, an audacious and ambitious collaboration involving Holland, Frente Cumbiero bandleader Mario Galeano, and 42 of Colombia’s greatest musicians. Created in the distressed studios of venerable cumbia label Discos Fuentes, OndatrÃ³pica is part Buena Vista Social Club, part cumbia experimentalism, and a completely satisfying and joyous journey through the tropical variations of Latin America’s most popular dance music.
Recorded more or less live on four-track analog equipment, OndatrÃ³pica has a breezy, seat-of-the-pants feel that works entirely to its advantage. Disc one has more of an arranged vibe; the first few tracks alone include the dubtastic “Punky Sonidero”; “Suena,” an ecstatic spin on deeply grooving ’60s-era cumbia sabanera featuring French-Chilean MC Ana Tijoux; and a casually brilliant Black Sabbath cover, “I Ron Man.” The individual musicians shine brighter on disc two, where accordion whiz Anibal VelÃ¡squez (“Mambo Loco Especial”), marimba master Esteban Copete (“Donde Suena el Bombo”), and singer Markitos Micolta (“Cien AÃ±os”) all rack up perfect moments. Holland and Galeano set out to make an album celebrating Colombian cumbia’s past. After tapping into its profound legacy, they’ve sent it dancing into the future.