Few electronic artists are making fresher tropically inclined tracks right now than the Colombian collective Cero39, but they absolutely have an equal in the Dominican trio of MULA. The two groups’ moody collaboration “La Cura” makes that undeniable. Cero39 founder Mauricio Alvarez is known for bringing a scholar’s passion for Colombia’s diverse folkloric traditions – like vallenato – to his party jams. The group is based in coastal Barranquilla, and their 2016 full-length Moni Moni shows an especially mushy soft spot for Caribbean sounds like reggaeton. On their side, MULA have been releasing increasingly innovative digitizations of Dominican genres, all of which are soon to appear on their forthcoming album Aguas.
“La Cura” finds these freelance cultural attachés reaching across the Caribbean Sea, united by their love of dembow, while leaning heavily on other Dominican references. Dreamy yet filled with a seductive tension, “La Cura” is subtle and intricate but feels minimalist because of the pulled synth jabs, slowly shifting dembow beats, and the insouciant mambo vocals of MULA’s Cristabel Acevedo. Sometimes the laid-back dembow triples up into merengue. Instead of being jarring, the switch between tempos is remarkably smooth, even sneaky, and has the strange effect of relieving the tension, only to ratchet it up seconds later.
The joint effort combines the best of what each group has to offer: MULA seems to have set the tone with their after-hours cool while managing to absorb the adventuresome busyness that characterizes the average sunny Cero39 jawn. Both parties are operating from truly forward-thinking philosophies and possess a gift for respecting the styles they’re inspired by, while finding entirely new possibilities in them. Working as a team, they have shown us yet another previously unknown horizon.
“La Cura” will appear on Cero39’s upcoming EP Mis Tierras Calientes.