Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Colombiafrica: The Mystic Orchestra

  • Voodoo Love Inna Champeta-Land [Riverboat, 2007] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Voodoo Love Inna Champeta-Land [Riverboat, 2007]
Centered in the drug entrepôt of Cartagena on Colombia's Caribbean coast, champeta has the regional currency of reggaeton or baile funk. Even at its simplest, though, it's more musicianly, played by live bands and directly influenced by many Afropop styles. This U.S.-released introduction is anything but simple--it is in fact the rare piece of pan-Africana that doesn't seem designed to soften up millionaires at a UNESCO benefit. The secret is Congo-Parisian guitar etoile Bopol Mansiamina adding idiomatic expertise and handing work off to comrades such as Diblo Dibala and Rigo Star. But what he's adding to also counts: three champeta stars whose own idioms include jerky cumbia and vallenata, boilerplate salsa and squeezeboxes and funny horns never heretofore heard on what is more or less a soukous record--though more likely to show up on one that also flirts with highlife and Afrobeat. You'll hear some funny voices, too--funny ha-ha and funny peculiar. A-