Surrounding: South-American Women In Electronic Music is the first compilation from Peru-based imprint Surrounding Label, on which they showcase the talent of women behind the boards. As Surrounding Label shrewdly captures, women “have produced, and continue to produce, much of the most daring, beautiful and innovative music in the continent.” The compilation highlights six producers from South America (and a guest Italian beatmaker), and it’s threaded with an overall nostalgic feel that runs through the songs, even at their most festive moments.
The set opens with “Unn,” a track by Argentine artist and Red Bull Music Academy alum Sobrenadar. She washes her double-tracked vocals in reverbed layers over a hypnotically steady beat, drawing your attention like quicksand before illuminating the room with bright, shoegazey synths. Cómeme collaborator Valesuchi, from Chile, lets an understated, proto-jungle drum pattern drive her song “Jungle Yuki,” which slowly unravels as the song progresses.
Colombian artist Magdalena injects some tropical flavor into her dreamy electropop on “Blue Dress,” singing in peculiar English, a vocal style that tips its hat to The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson. From Peru, Maribel Tafur, who recently participated in the Santiago edition of RBMA Bass Camp, contributes the most upbeat track on the compilation. The 8-minute “Luna” is a smooth house number suited for afterhours, where she imaginatively matches piano chords with field recordings of children playing.
Baridi Baridi, the second Argentine collaborator on the compilation, is behind “Edie Dance With Me,” a track led by a trip hop beat. She flips between film dialogue samples and sung vocals with lovely results. From Brazil, Luisa Putterman shares a short but sweet ditty called “Silencio de Marfim,” reminiscent of instrumental hip-hop programming and jazz. Finally, Italian artist Entú closes with ambient pop number “Aquí Dentro.” Surprisingly, she sings in Portuguese, backed with weightless synth pads and arpeggiated piano ripples, and the effect is magical.
In an industry where tales of abuse and gender-based violence surface more and more every day, initiatives like this compilation aren’t just welcome, they’re necessary. Coincidentally, another recent compilation by Mexico City label Piratón Records also celebrates women artists from the region, but beyond the realm of electronic music. Both works help fight prejudice and injustice through nothing but pure talent.