Palenque Palenque: Champeta Criolla and Afro-Roots in Columbia 1975-1991
Following a rousing reminder by the Colombian hip-hop fusion band Choc Quib Town of the African roots of much of their country's music comes this intriguing compilation chronicling how Afrobeat and African psychedelia influenced the Caribbean coasts of South America. The subtitle is Champeta Criolla and Afro Roots in Colombia 1975-91, which may sound academic, but the music is more exciting. This was the era when DJs sought out rare vinyl from Africa that was played on the local picos (soundsystems) and then transformed by local bands. The resulting style, champeta, is a clattering, insistent mix of chanting, percussion and guitar that veers between the hypnotic, the quirky and the infuriating. There are some great tracks here by the brassy Casimbas Negras, the eccentric Alberto Carbono (who mixed Afrobeat with wailing guitar effects) and Lisandro Meza, who does an edgy imitation of Fela Kuti. But then there's Wganda Kenya, whose overuse of repeated chorus lines is enough to drive you crazy – but probably sounded far better at an all-night dance session.