“History and context are everything,” Riobamba told us in 2016 upon launching her cerebral, culture-tracing electronic music distribution platform APOCALIPSIS. Three years later, she’s dropping what she calls in a press release the label’s “manifesto;” her own three track solo EP Criatura, whose release party will take place not amid insular club vibes, but a full-on protest in front of the New York City ICE headquarters on October 24th.
Criatura is nothing if not protest music. The EP opens with the sirens and pants of “Muerte,” which build to an almost unbearably taut conclusion. “Inicio” continues with the breathwork, putting the listener into intimate circumstance with the track’s unknown protagonist — though Riobamba herself supplied the vocals, deconstructing herself into an every woman who dodges doomsday bell tolls and snarling dogs. Where “Grito’s” title preps for more martial warfare, its sonic reality bubbles up into an energizing techno sprint, a path beat for energy under duress.
In an accompanying statement with the project, Riobamba explains that the project’s title taps into the directives of Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ 1992 book Women Who Run With The Wolves. In it, the producer found a road towards revolution — but not one that is without a need for personal growth – “ritual death, ignition, and rebirth” being the requisites to get over. It’s clear that the Ecuadorian-Lithuanian, Boston-raised producer and label boss envisions the EP as sounds you put in your back pocket, one more tool for navigating the shark-infested waters of 2019.
Happily, Riobamba has taken the project’s mission statement out of the intellectual sphere and into IRL action with her plans for its release party. The event will not take place in a record store, not in a club. Instead, she’s inviting listeners to pull through to New York City’s Federal Plaza ICE headquarters, a shrewd effort to signal boost the work of New York collective Melting Point, which regularly holds open air protests that double as dance parties.
For this edition, the crew is fundraising for a Tijuana shelter for deportees, migrants, and refugees that also works on legal aid and documentation projects. Al Otro Lado, the beneficiary of the event, was founded in 2012. The organization tends to a variety of issues, including legal and other types support for families that have been torn apart by immigration policies on both sides of the border. It was one of the early whistleblowers regarding the US government refusal to process asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border. The partnership makes real sense for APOCALIPSIS — Riobamba’s built the label on the concept of the sonic richness made possible by free interchange of people and places. Shutting the gate on humanity is most certainly not on its releases’ track lists.