Costa Rica’s indie rock and garage bands are well-documented forces in their respective scenes, but the country’s electronic producers and artists garner far less attention. Its electronic scene has gradually flourished over the past few years; Barcelona-based Raido continues to put out one strong release after another; DJ Bartosz Brenes’ fruitful career led him to open for Justin Bieber, and Patterns has steadily cemented its place as a mainstay in Latin American electro-pop. And with the proliferation of events like 7DK, Pazland, or the massive festival Envision, it’s clear there’s an audience for these sounds.
As an electronic artist, a fan, and now a label owner, Ronald Bustamante – founder of experimental music netlabel Pink Matter Dark Noise – has witnessed a growth in the Central American country’s clubbing scene. According to him, there’s also been a shift in the music that’s being produced, both in terms of quantity and diversity, generating new live acts for niche music fans. “This is the main difference between the current scene and what was happening 20 years ago,” he says.
Sparked by an article he wrote for local magazine Revista Vacío, and inspired by conversations he has had with Costa Rican women producers, as well as compilations from Monika Weerkstatt and Feminoise Latinoamérica, Bustamante took on the task of curating a series featuring only women from or based in Costa Rica. The result is Juegos Ambiguos, and its first volume includes songs from five musical projects on different wavelengths of the electronic spectrum.
The compilation kicks off with Bengalas’ “Valor,” a candy-sweet pop song to make you smile. It’s followed by Blau Grisenc and her track “Azul,” a moody and glitchy IDM exploration. Mimus’ uses a guitar, programming, and, most prominently, her voice, to conjure beauty in “Do My Job,” but Rompiste mis flores quickly drags you back to the ground with the raw post-punk track “Reza.” The most abstract moment here comes courtesy of Japanese culture-obsessed Voodoo Lily, who created an unusual no-dance number we’re simply going to call “Difícil de explicar” (that’s exactly what it is.)
Like the rest of the world, Costa Rica’s electronic music realm is dominated by men, so Juegos Ambiguos is a step forward, if only because it favors genre diversity and offers visibility to the more marginalized members of the community. Sign us up for the rest of the volumes.