Elegancia Tropical, by Bomba Estereo (Album of the Week)

Listening to this album brought to mind the classic break-up line – “It’s not you, it’s me.” I can see how this is a fun, great, energizing listen for some people, but as a middle-aged, non-Spanish-speaking, dance-club-avoiding fuddy-duddy, I have to say that this one is not to my taste.

Robin, over at Deliberate Obfuscation, says that listening to music outside our “zone” is part of the reason for this “Album of the Week” project, but the rapid beat messes with her heart-rate and nervous system. How did we get so old?

If you’re into electronic dance music, though, this album brings it. Driving bass drums, bouncing rhythm, high-energy vocals – it’s all there. Stray sound-effects from science-fiction movies are strewn liberally through the rhythms. Electronic trills, drum machines, etc..

Even listening to it alone in my car, it transports me to a loud, crowded dance hall in someplace tropical. I was practically sweating and wanted to sip a watered down Long Island Iced Tea out of a plastic cup. My head bobbed and I expected the headlights to pivot and strobe. That’s great if you want to be in a sweaty dance club, but most days at 53, that’s not a major yearning for me.

Bomba Estereo (literally, “stereo bomb”, but translated by the band’s founder as “a really cool, awesome, bad ass party”) hales from Colombia. You’ll be spared a thoughtful analysis of how the lyrics explore nuances of that country’s culture because, well, the lyrics are all in Spanish. Not only are they in Spanish, most of them are in really rapid Spanish, so, even if I knew Spanish, I doubt I would know it well enough to keep up. I suspect, without really knowing, that the lyrics are pretty much typical dance stuff. I’m pretty sure the lyrics to “Lo Que Tengo Que Decir” are naughty, judging by the tone of voice . . .

Again, my inability to understand the lyrics is a case of “It’s not you, it’s me.” I realize that the majority of the world hears music in English and misses the lyrics, so turn-about is fair play. (We spent a couple weeks in Bolivia several years ago working on building a schoolhouse, and the local workers’ radio kept blaring “Oh, Mickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey, hey Mickey”, which struck me as hilariously weird Andean sound.) If you want to follow the words, though, be prepared for a fire hose of Spanish.

(This album was suggested by my friend Logtar, a native of Colombia. To test my own open-mindedness when I didn’t love his music, we visited a South American restaurant he recommends, Empanada Madness. I’m happy to report that I am a fan of that aspect of his culture that includes tasty stuff fried in dough. So don’t call me a xenophobe.)

Next up: Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son, by Damien Jurado.

One Response to “Elegancia Tropical, by Bomba Estereo (Album of the Week)”

  1. [...] There are so many sounds on this – so many unnatural sounds.  For me it’s distracting. Gone Mild says that it reminds him of science fiction movies. That’s a good analogy. There were some that reminded me of those toy instruments that the kids [...]

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