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El Dragon Criollo - Pase Lo Que Pase LP

El Dragon Criollo - Pase Lo Que Pase LP

El Palmas Music (Spain)

Regular price $37.98 USD
Regular price Sale price $37.98 USD
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On his debut album as El Drágon Crillo, Colombian producer, musician and singer Paulo Olarte Toro finds a meeting place between bouncing Caribbean cadences and dancefloor-ready beats that threaten to propel your body into motion. Pase Lo Que Pase (translating as Whatever Happens, Happens) is one of those albums that threatens to take you some place new, in this case to the Colombian Caribbean sometime around the '80s or '90s, when analog synths, punchy drum machines and Afro-Caribbean guitar melodies ruled the roost. The fact it was this era when Olarte Toro was growing up in Colombia should not go unnoticed. Now based in Geneva, Switzerland, it's like he's dialing back the years to a more innocent musical time, re-imagining what it was like for those early pioneers of reggaeton (long before it became so commercial) and for the musicians on Colombia's Caribbean coast augmenting their tropical vinyl sets with rough-and-ready samples and lo-fi drum sounds. Within this sonic milieu, there is joy at every corner, from the moment opening track "La Número Uno" sets off on its stripped-back champeta rhythm. In its swirling guitar lines, programmed beat (slowed down to cumbia pace) and unrushed vocals it's impossible not to lose track of time. Further twisted guitar lines are to be found on following track "La Brisa", which was influenced by US West Coast '90s rock a la Jane's Addiction, while "Líbrame de Todo Mal" finds an unlikely union between reggae, a disarmingly-anthemic '80s synth line and stinging guitar. It's a fiesta at which you're never far from cumbia, as on the mesmerizing "Cumbia Fantasia", but also throughout the album, where cumbia's rhythm, instrumentation and traditions are continually hinted at. If musically there is much playfulness and a hint of nostalgia, albeit thrust up-to-date thanks to Olarte Toro's production, lyrically there is a heavy heart at play. "Ojos de Bosque", a duet which likewise has a sprinkle of Brazilian bombast and is unafraid to get close to "pop" terrain, was written when the first pandemic hit. With his arsenal of guitar, bass, analog synths (chiefly Roland Juno-106 and JX-3P), samplers and percussion, not to mention his guiding voice, Olarte Toro has created an album that could only have been made by him, by a Colombian who grew up with Latin rock, reggaeton, cumbia, champeta, etc., and who moved to Europe to become a noted name in underground dance music circles.

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