Various Cartagena!

The latest chapter in Soundway Records' exploration of Colombian music travels to Cartagena on the Caribbean coast. Early on, "Cumbia Del Pescador" by Puerto Rico Y Su Combo suggests this music is a bit less clean, possessed of a lighter Caribbean flavour on the horn arrangements than previous Soundway comps. Perhaps these are aesthetic preferences of Curro Fuentes, the producer with a say in most of these bands' personnel, or the sound most popular in the city. There's a preponderance of flute and alto sax combinations, and rhythms that echo the Caribbean, with beguine and calypso both bubbling up under cumbia's signature skank. Exuberant clarinet work sparkles like folkloric gaita flutes, and on the whacked-out "Santa Marta Cumbia," an enharmonic clarinet sounds almost like a Moog synth. It's quite a contrast with Lucho Bermudez' smooth, full-bodied orchestra, which play with lower brass sounds. "Santana En Salsa" by Crencencio Camacho may be the choice dance floor jam, as most Soundway comps tend to peak around the best tracks, with a wobbly, but pleasantly menacing organ that EQed just right could be devastating. This comp is a worthy addition to all the other Colombian collections on Soundway. (Soundway)