Ska Rumba Riot
Puerto Rican outfit La Quilombera pushes genre and cultural boundaries at Casa Sorrento in Salinas.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
La Quilombera frontman Alexis Rivera Falú is ready to revolt. But he’s not into guns, coups and guerrilla warfare. The Puerto Rican is thinking about intellectual upheaval, where art can bring people of all cultures and ethnicities together.
“We want to make a revolution but we don’t want a revolution where people just go nuts,” Falú says. “We want people to share ideas.”
About a year ago, the vocalist/keyboardist/organist/accordionist enlisted six like-minded musicians – all with completely different musical backgrounds – to form La Quilombera.
“We come from everything from ska to Cuban music to Afro-Caribbean,” Falú says. “We’ve all been around a lot of different music and we all come from different areas of [Puerto Rico].”
Falú, who spent years with popular ska band The Skalites, found inspiration to meld music elements while traveling around South America with his Argentinean wife: While guitar styles and horn sections varied widely, he found inspiring consistency in the dance-driving percussion.
“I started thinking that it would be good to have a band that had a universal rhythm and could get people all over the world to move like they do in Latin America,” Falú says.
The resulting music is a perpetual surprise built around a distinctive synthesis of genres and magnetic beats they like to call “kinky rumba.” Falú describes its live incarnation as an experience that launches listeners into orbit.
“It makes you want to smile and it makes you feel strong,” Falú says.
Last week, the group released its self-titled debut EP; they plan on recording their full-length debut by the end of the year. The four-song debut, which includes two remixes by Toti Arimany and Urayo, is a dance party waiting to happen, with a smattering of unobtrusive politics delivered in about 30 minutes.
“Robando al que me Roba” (Stealing From He Who Steals From Me) – inspired by the economic crisis and new taxes implemented in Puerto Rico – is an Afro-Cuban brew with side dishes of salsa, pop, mariachi and a modicum of old-school Buena Vista Social Club jazz.
“It basically expresses a feeling that a lot of people have,” Falú says. “They are mad. Why are people stealing from people who are just trying to get by?”
La Quilombera’s rhythmic expanse “Las Fronteras” (The Borders) is one of those tunes that gets stuck in your head. Abraxas-era Santana-soaked guitar riffs – entwined with a catchy chorus of chanting-like harmonies and torrent of tribal percussion – ignite an all-around feeling of soul-shaking goodness.
Friday night at Casa Sorrento will mark La Quilombera’s sixth stop on its California tour – its first U.S. tour and Falú’s first visit to the country. And he’s eager to see how Americans respond.
“We are looking forward to connecting with non-Spanish speaking audiences,” Falú says. “We are all citizens of the world, and unification of all citizens will make the world a better place.”
LA QUILOMBERA performs at 9pm Friday, Nov. 9, at Casa Sorrento, 393 Salinas St., Salinas. $5. 757-2720.