Santa Muerte’s ‘Penitencia’ EP Finds the Missing Link Between Pop Anthems and Eerie Club Music

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As Texas duo Santa Muerte continue to make their way up the ranks of global club music, it proves that what they set out to do from day one – harness their strengths as individuals and collaborators – was a moment of providence. The duo’s identity is centered in making decisions together and working to nurture a single aesthetic. This joint effort has led them to work with global names like GHE20G0TH1K, NAAFI, and Bala Club, and now they are releasing their new Penitencia EP on Kastle’s label Symbols. Panchitron and Sines are in a groove that proves that their skill as collaborators go beyond the duo, to include featured vocalists as well.

The EP features three new tracks, plus two remixes, one by Kastle and another from NAAFI’s Zutzut. All three of the original tracks on the album include a collaboration; opener “Bad Feelings” guest stars Lunarios on vocals. This fully arranged melodramatic collage is adorned with sampled strings, a meandering piano melody for added sophistication, and a bone-rattling bass synth, all of which work together to host Lunario’s fuzzy sad boy vocals. The song sits eerily between an anthemic pop track and clubby slow jam, pulling at the heartstrings. Kastle provides a solid remix, reworking the rhythmic mood and melodic progression without abandoning the song’s charm.

For “Y-Riddim,” Santa Muerte tapped fellow Texan Creepside. The immediate cohesion between the dramatic synth arrangements and the busy percussion allow both sides of the collaboration to showcase their skills as producers. Words can’t do justice to the motorcycle street race samples in Zutzut’s reimagining of the track; it simply deserves a close listen.

What’s interesting about this project – and something that’s likely purposeful – is that it works well for dance floors and for headphones. Santa Muerte might consider expanding on this musical direction, as the lush synth work and melodic arrangements seem to open up the possibility of reaching new listeners.

The final track, “Syngian,” enlists the help of Los Angeles’s TenTwentySeven, whose unrelenting dembow riddim make this the most aggressive yet club-friendly track on the album. The track title references an Old English word meaning sin, and with that we find a loose connection to the album title.

As producers and collaborators, Santa Muerte stand in a league of their own. With Penitencia, we witness the next chapter of their career, as well as a congregation of strong producers (albeit all men) in one fully-realized project.