Locobeach’s Psychedelic Disco Cumbia

cover artThis album’s title Psychedelic Disco Cumbia pretty much says it all. Danceable cumbia music with a combination of analog and electronic instruments and a psychedelic edge. Locobeach is a New York City-based supergroup with members from bands like Los Amigos Invisibles, Chicha Libre and others, whose musical projects and appearances overlapped until they started jamming together. Out front are José Luis Pardo on guitars and vocals and Joshua Camp on accordion, keyboards and vocals. Laying down the groove are Edward Marshall on bass with Neil Ochoa on congas, percussion and electronics, and Fernando Valladares on timbales and drums.

This is such a fun record! Based solidly in cumbia, it has elements of dub, chicha, disco, funk and more, including house, courtesy of those divine analog synthesizers. Just take the first couple of tracks, for instance. “Dream Of The Bellflower” is based on Peruvian cumbia, uptempo to the point of betraying cumbia’s roots in that 1950s staple, the cha-cha. The title is a reference to a family of flowers that grow in the Amazon all of which have various medicinal and hallucinogenic properties. The psychedelic electric guitar and layers of burbling synths help make sense of the title, all subtly psychedelic … Well, maybe not so subtly, once the second track “Mira Quien Llego” kicks into gear. The synths feature mord prominently on this one and there’s solid instrumental work throughout, including a unison melody line from two guitars and keyboard, all serving to highlight the sweet tenor vocals.

The album is a mix of songs and instrumentals. I tend to prefer the latter, and there’s lots to like here. “Six On The Stairway To Seven,” is a super-fast cumbia whose sound shifts every minute or so, from clean guitar to distortion, etc. “Guaracheo” is straight Latin electro-disco, strong on the congas and timbales with heavy dub-like bass. I think my favorite is “Kakalapapanga,” a superb slab of Latin dub disco funk. And more.

Heavy guitars introduce the song “Javelin,” which then segues into a luche chicha ballad full of dreamy apres-surf guitars and heavily reverbed, socially conscious lyrics, “from the point of view of the colonized and marginalized.” The album’s first single was “Rata,” a chicha-infuenced song with heavy use of eletric guitars and lyrics about untrue friends. Second single was the spaghetti western-cumbia hybrid “The Devil Is A Charmer,” a clear homage to surf guitar heroes like Dick Dale.

If you’re not ready for the slide from fall toward winter, or the return to early sunsets and long dark nights like we’re seeing now here in the Northern Hemisphere, hook up with Locobeach and let their Psychedelic Disco Cumbia take you to the tropics.

(Dorsal Fin Records/Peace & Rhythm, 2019)

About Gary Whitehouse

Gary has been reviewing music, books and more at the Green Man Review since sometime in the previous Millennium. He lives in a mostly hipster-free part of Oregon, where he enjoys dogs, books, music, the outdoors, and craft beer, cider, and coffee.