Considered one of the most important groups to come out of Colombia, Ghetto Kumbé’s unique sound – blending the old with the new – has made them some of the best ambassadors of the burgeoning international Afro-Electronic scene.
Colombia. As breathtaking as it is complex, is one of the most geographically and biologically diverse regions of the world and home to an abundance of cultures and ethnicities – as well as a very tumultuous past. Enduring over half a century of violence and civil war – from government corruption to the gorilla and paramilitary groups to the drug cartels – and being faced with new challenges each year such as the Venezuelan refugee crisis, Colombia is no stranger to adversity. However, despite these immense hardships, the Colombian people have continued to push forward and actively take a stand against the corruption, oppression and violence that has been their reality for so many years. Some of the best retrospections of these shared experiences have been propagated through the country’s rich art forms – including of course, its music.
One of Colombia’s most beloved musical creations – Ghetto Kumbé – has taken music with a meaning to a whole other level, successfully propelling their powerful messages to the international music space with their incredible instrumentation as the perfect vessel. Whether you speak Spanish or not is irrelevant; the powerful drums, skillful electronics and hypnotic vocals are more than enough to keep your attention. And if you do speak Spanish, you will understand just how deeply profound their music really is.
In need of a way to process these traumatic experiences, music offered an excellent reprieve resulting in each member experimenting with music from a young age. Flash forward to their adulthood and each member had not only mastered a different musical instrument but learned that music is one of the most powerful methods to bring about change. It’s on these past shared traumas and desires to disrupt the status quo that Ghetto Kumbé was born.
In the six years since the groups’ inception, they have gone from being a local Colombian group primarily playing small club gigs and parties to international tours opening for Radio Head and performing on Boiler Room. With two previous EPs under their belts – Kumbé and Soy Selva – their latest self-titled album that was released at the end of July is arguably their most innovative and profound music yet, shining the spotlight on important issues not only affecting Colombians, but many people around the world. As succinctly described by their ultra-cool Buenos Aires based label, ZZK Records, the album was inspired by the different revolutionary movements emerging all over the world, denouncing the inequalities and abuses imposed by corrupt governments while encouraging listeners to join the fight.
Like coordinates on a map, the various instruments define the journey – the gaita, ancestral chants and more hand drums than you ever knew existed – are mixed seamlessly with the trio’s punchy electronic tech-house rhythms, making it ideal listening for everything from your evening jog to having the ultimate dancefloor moment. The exceptional production can be partly attributed to the album’s co-producer, Oliver Williams aka The Busy Twist, who adds his personal UK bass scene touch to the afro-futuristic sounds of the three Colombians.