Review | Songlines

La Locura de Machuca 1975-1980

Rating: ★★★★

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Album and Artist Details




Analog Africa


Discos Machuca was a seminal Afro-cumbia label in late 70s Colombia. Founded by a tax lawyer who reinvented himself as a recording guru, it specialised in the electrified hybrid of bolero, vallenato and trad cumbia that was all the rage in the picos neighbourhood sound systems – of his native Barranquilla. La Locura de Machuca gives us a sampling of fringe artists like King Somalie and Conjunto Barbacoa and bands Machuca created such as Samba Negra and El Grupo Folclórico, as well as a track by hit-maker Aníbal Velásquez. His longtime recording engineer, Eduardo Dávila, nicknamed the label’s output as the ‘B-Movies of Colombian music.’

There’s impressive variety here. King Somalie’s ‘Monkey’s Dance’ is a cool, swaying lounge number with an ironic lilt. El Grupo Folclórico’s ‘Tamba’ is a pulsating, drum-driven chant designed to fill the dance floor with sweat. ‘El Campanero’, by Los Viajeros Siderales, is a finger-pickin’ piece of psychedelic whimsy. La Banda Africana’s ‘Te Clavo la… Mano’ could be from a Latino blaxploitation/softporn soundtrack. Instruments alternate with vocal numbers. Some tracks tilt towards Cuba, others to Jamaica. What links them is a deeply sublimated africanidad or African-ness and a serene, solid sense of musical identity. Only dudes cool enough to know what they are can be this easy with so many rhythms, so many modes. A blast from the past it might be, but La Locura de Machuca still feels vital and fresh.

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