Bolivia’s indigenous music traditions continue to inspire its rising experimental music stars. This release comes from a young Neo Andino artist so dedicated to his country’s auditory traditions that he named himself after one of them. Sikuri is a 20-year-old producer from La Paz who crews with Bolivia’s innovative, long-running Oi Mas Bass collective. His name is a reference to an ensemble form of Andean pan flute music, usually performed in groups so that compositions can span a wider range of sound.
There’s no doubt that Sikuri’s covering a lot of auditory ground in his new EP, which has already jumped half the globe to be released by London label and clothing brand Trax Couture.
The four-track Zafiro is a florid collage of influences, with no small amount of sound culled from his knowledge of the zampoña, an Andean panpipe. “Aamado” kicks things off with a space age march that eventually arrives among a chirping throng of birds. “Llegada” throws sweet sounds from the wind instrument on top of warm electronic pulses, while “Noche” pairs lightsabers with delicate hand drums. Title track “Zafiro” is a jewel of a song that employs synth sounds along traditional rhythms and rapid-fire percussion.
Those are the sounds and this is the vibe – or maybe Zafiro has more to do with the mysteriously clean cut stone designs at Puma Punku, the ancient Bolivian temple near Tiwanuku on whose space age origins Ancient Aliens loves to speculate. The label also cites “Kalamarka, indigenous dance costumes, regional mythology, cumbia amazónica, chacarera, boleros, and similar peripheral rhythms” as reference points.
The release underlines Bolivian folklore’s continued influence in today’s Andean club music. Check last year’s ZZK Records remix of Quechuan bard Luzmila Carpio for more traditional, experimental, and intergenerational looping — and expect the blend to infiltrate a club scene near you.