On Barrio Lindo’s New Album, South American Folklore Meets Ambient Electronics

Lead Photo: Artwork by Volcán
Artwork by Volcán
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At the end of 2015, Argentina’s Barrio Lindo and England’s El Búho co-founded Shika Shika, a border-defying label and collective that highlights organic-electronic artists from around the world. Of course, this concept isn’t new, and it can be explored in a million different ways. But using the structures of Western dance music, these producers process international folklore into a cohesive sound – one where borders blur into wet grass, tropical breezes, and bird calls.

Barrio Lindo expresses the naturalistic heart of his electronic productions in the most basic form possible: he actually makes the instruments he uses, which gives him not only access, but a personal connection to the organic textures that layer his work. That includes his latest album, titled Albura, a reference to the raw material he uses in his craft as a luthier, or maker of stringed instruments. It makes perfect sense that this, his second full-length, marks the first physical edition for Shika Shika; the record is dropping in a beautifully-packaged 12”.

Albura is Barrio Lindo’s ode to South America. He pays homage to the continent’s diverse cultures by reinterpreting regional genres and incorporating traditional instruments like charangos, marimbas, and quenas. Take opener “Facón;” on it, collaborator Jhon Montoya and Barrio Lindo reference an Argentine chacarera, creating an irresistible polyrhythm after superposing it with a 4/4 dance pattern. “Circunvalar,” on the other hand, isn’t a repurposing of cumbia – it’s just a straight-up cumbia track, from the rhythm down to the melody.

On “Otoño Primavera” and “Carnaval de las flores,” Barrio Lindo heads to the Andean carnival. Then on “Saudade,” he hops over to Brazil, where he honors the Portuguese title with a bossa nova chord progression on acoustic guitar and hollow vocalizations that make for a blast of nostalgia.

“Pura danza” features Barrio Lindo’s own voice in an even more prominent way; it lets his warm baritone shine up front over austere instrumentation. Other guest vocalists include Ela Minus and Wende Wen, who infuse each collaboration with their own distinct personalities.

Albura is a reaffirmation of Barrio Lindo’s dexterity, not in balancing the organic and the synthetic, nor in fusing folklore or electronic music, but in creating a place where there’s no distinction between these concepts at all. If you ever wanted to take a trip across South America, this is a great place to start.

Barrio Lindo’s Albura is out now on Shika Shika.