In recent years, we have seen and heard artists take traditional folk music from all over the world – especially Latin America – and blend it with modern electronic instruments and other elements to become the hottest sounds for people to go berzerk on the dancefloor. For most people, the question is no longer “Can it be done?” It hasn’t been the question for some time, since the limits have long since disappeared. We’ve seen electronic cumbia and baile funk being adopted by global audiences and producers alike to evolve and become some of the most exciting sounds on the planet. Rather, the question nowadays should be something more along the lines of: “Can there be another style of folk dance music to become the next hot rhythm for worldwide beatmakers to mess with?”
Lechuga Zafiro seems to think so. He started his label, Salviatek, in part to explore the sounds of his native Uruguay and see what some synths and samplers can bring out of it. The label focuses on artists who anchor their sound with candombe, a traditional rhythm brought to that region and practiced centuries ago by African slaves. Candombe is not samba or cumbia in the sense that it’s not a popular sound known the world over. Still, Salviatek is trying to inject the style with modern technology and languages to make some interesting and exciting new music, some of which can be found on the Syndombe Club EP by Montevideo-based producer Pobvio.
Syndombe Club features beats that resemble African percussion, with many elements creating a flowing polyrhythm that is hard to resist. All the melodic elements of the music sport a celebratory quality within their digital confines, aiding the rhythm more than the hooks. Sometimes the rhythms take excursions towards more modern beats like trap, but the feeling never ceases to be anchored by Afro-Latino polyrhythm.
As for the proverbial question of how effective candombe is when it comes to fusion with modern idioms, the answer seems to be a resounding yes. Take the irresistible “Momo Riddim;” it wouldn’t seem out of place next to other tracks in Diplo’s arsenal of surefire joints in his DJ sets. “Ta Maluca” is digital, frantic, and more melodic than most of the others, but it’s still based on the style of beats of the other tracks present here. The EP is rounded out by remixes from N.A.A.F.I. associate Imaabs and Lechuga Zafiro himself; both give new flavor to the sound Pobvio demonstrates on this release.
It’s great for artists to discover native sounds, especially when they have the vision to go beyond their conventional palette of rhythms. Candombe just might become a new craze for producers and beatmakers, and that can hardly become a concern. Hopefully in the future, more artists like Pobvio will explore the possibilities of the genre with the same sense of awe and confidence.