Color de Tropico


Color de Trópico is a carefully-compiled work of healing and reconstruction, documenting a special moment in the history of Venezuelan music, when the country's democracy was just a few years old and the profound impact of the oil industry on society had only just begun. DJ El Palmas and El Dragón Criollo have chosen eight impossibly hard-to-find jewels, originally released between 1966 and 1978, reissued here for the first time on vinyl. In this period, Venezuelan musicians assimilated a wide range of influences and styles, both local and global, to generate something new, a "modern" identity for Venezuelan music; artists who set their eyes on the future without giving up the search for their own sabor (flavor). This is how jazz, rock, salsa, funk, psych, prog and disco, sat next to guajira, cumbia, cha-cha-cha and even the hugely-popular Venezuelan style of joropo. It started a long tradition of Venezuelan musical pioneers, many of whom are still to get the recognition they deserve. "El Despertar" ("The Awakening") kicks off things with a goodbye for it was the last single Los Darts released before their dissolution in 1974. A cha-cha-cha rhythm with bossa nova piano, bluesy stylings and a Caribbean context -- a blueprint for tasty miscegenation -- with the use of electric guitar, arriving in waves of chords, signaling the onset of modernity. "Guajira con Arpa" by the pioneering Hugo Blanco, who lists the creation of countless rhythms and his early adoption of rhythms like ska amongst his claims to fame, is a fusion that arrives without complexities. With "Zambo" the party is on. Here we have an all-star line-up comparable to master Cortijo's brief project with his Time Machine in Puerto Rico. "Gaita Universal" by El Combo Los Capri, gives you a moment of solace, recalling the cultural, rhythmic, and even spiritual brotherhood of Venezuela not only with the Caribbean but with the continent, South America, and neighboring Colombia. Nelson Y Sus Estrellas is reminiscent of the Caribbean wave but here under his "urban" outfit. Nelson plays guaguancó in the style of original salsa, specifically in this version (the theme evolves over time) with a disco-soul twist on "Fantasía Latina". The cosmic "Tu y Yo" from Almendra plots a journey between soul-jazz and psychedelia that sails over a Moog until ending as a P-Funk descarga. The album closes with Tulio Enrique León y Su Organ playing "Bimbom", a European pop-styled track from 1975. Also features La Retreta Mayor, Germán Fernando.