Camanchaca, fake fruit and the release of Digitalisimo Bailable- 04 September, 2012
In late August, Argentinean electronic music outfit Camanchaca released their long awaited third album, Digitalisimo Bailable; but this was not a normal release. The duo, formed by Juan de Borbón and Alejandro Duro, decided to make the album a full aesthetic and interactive experience, incorporating art, photography, technology and some industrious clue planting along Buenos Aires. Their method is as mixed and busy as their record; nine tracks of pure twenty-first century remix mastery that is thoughtful, danceable, and attentive to detail.
The fact is that the digital cumbia label falls short when describing Camanchaca’s achievements on this album. In an interview with Argentinean cultural magazine Revista Mock, the group declared that the key to Digitalisimo Bailable was not to use cumbia in an anthropological way: “the synthesisers intervene and reformulate the genre, not the other way around.” While the band certainly uses layers of cumbia percussion, Camanchaca’s music resembles more Girl Talk than Chancha via Circuito. In typical bailable fashion, Borbón and Duro blend electronic music classics like Daft Punk and Justice, with sampled hip hop lyrics and Latin American repertoire like Calle 13 and King Africa.
From production to distribution, the album is a welcome product of globalisation and the idea of democratisation some technologies carry. While the physical copy of the album was distributed in micro SD cards inside fake fruit designed by artists in Buenos Aires, the digital copy is a free downloadable kit complete with photography and album artwork. In the sleeve, Camanchaca writes: “let’s share the sound; the world is made to be remixed.” And that is exactly what they do. Their songs function as new stories made from samples of different genres and different worlds: hip hop, cumbia, digital cumbia, dancehall, chillwave, tribal, dubstep, reggae, electro, 8 bit. They coexist perfectly levelled in Camanchaca’s sonic utopia.
Sometimes Camanchaca’s creations take a turn towards irony, as can be heard in “El Mató.” The track features samples from Pibes Chorros and Calle 13’s “Pal’ Norte”, layered with happy 8 bit style synths. Considering the combative nature of Calle 13’s track, Camanchaca’s stripped down version manages to tone down the songs aggressiveness without stripping it of its meaning. It’s Camanchaca creating a new story with a new interpretation, and showing us that it is possible for the rest of us to do the same. It’s a populist gesture aimed at the Internet generation: everything is yours to recreate.
Under Teodoro Potente’s artistic production, Camanchaca has taken advantage of every medium possible to create an album that feels urgent and fresh. The integration of different artists into the project makes the record a distinct collaborative effort that offers different listening and viewing experiences. The constant, as expressed by the band in the same Revista Mock interview, is that they want their listeners to dance. There is no doubt that this is achieved with Digitalisimo Bailable. But we can take something else from the experience: the possibilities within the remix culture of creating new narratives while taking control of distribution and artistic vision. With this record, Camanchaca also adds a new dimension to digital cumbia, while paying homage to their predecessors. It’s an ambitious album worth having on rotation.
Digitalisimo Bailable is available for free download from camanchaca.com.ar