Words by Russ Slater
It’s so rare these days to find music that sounds completely fresh, that is in any way different to everything else out there. Los Pirañas are one of those rare finds. With previous pedigree in bands such as Ondatrópica, Meridian Brothers and Sidestepper, this instrumental trio from Bogotá have excavated Colombia’s tropical music, shovelled up champeta’s Afro-centric guitar lines, the tumbling rhythms of salsa and the raw grooves of cumbia, and then pushed these sounds into completely new territory. With just guitar, bass, drums and a lot of weird analogue-sounding effects, the group creates a whirlwind of sound, rhythms and textures, veering from spaced-out psychedelic patterns to simple hard grooves. If Konono No 1 came from Colombia, they might sound something like this: the title-track and ‘Pipetas de Gas y Dinamita’ are as visceral and rhythmically complex as anything the Congolese have released.
There is also a great deal of variety. ‘Lambada de Oceanía, África y América’ is a slow trance-like Amazonian cumbia. ‘Marco Polo Hombre Berraco Que la Tierra Conquistó’ mischievously plays with pitch-shifted vocals. And ‘Hueles a Espiritu Joven’ features the ultimate feel-good Caribbean guitar lick. Although the band has occasionally been labelled as ‘tropical noise’, they lack the abrasiveness that this suggests: this is as much music for dancing as listening. Furthermore, by paying homage to their favourite Latin American music, Los Pirañas are continuing, in their own way, the lineage of Colombian tropical music. Out of what is an increasingly diverse and brilliant music scene in Bogotá, Los Pirañas are one of the leading lights.
TRACK TO TRY: Lambada de Oceanía, África y América