Abelardo Carbonó ‘El Maravilloso mundo de Abelardo Carbonó’ CD/LP/Digital (Vampi Soul) 5/5

Abelardo CarbonóOne of the year’s discoveries and a fascinating synthesis of interweaving styles from Africa, the French and Spanish Caribbean, all coming together in a style know as champeta. Formed on the Atlantic coastline of Columbia looking out towards Africa and heavily influenced by that continent, champeta is part of a tropical music culture that has been appropriated into the mestizo, or mixed-race culture of the region. Singer-songwriter and guitarist Abelardo Carbonó is regarded as the originator of this musical métissage and his music came to fruition during then 1980s, though the absence of any keyboards means that the sound could just as easily have been recorded during the 1970s. If some examples of the music take a few listen to really sink in, others have an immediate hook and the innovatory aspect of the music here cannot and should not be underestimated. The relaxed African sounding groove of ‘Carolina’ with its lilting guitar riffs is the kind of song that Cameroonian musician Francis Bebey might have recorded and throughout this compilation the combination of external musical influences is all too apparent. Likewise the African-flavoured ‘Se acaba la paz’ with ditant brass echo or ‘La Cerradura’ which has a slightly quicker tempo than ‘Carolina’, but is still easy to identify with its catchy guitar riffs. Afro-Beat rhythms from Nigeria are present on the frenetic yet deeply melodic ‘Quiero a mi gente’ which features some terrific guitar work. This anthology covers Carbonó’s 1980s recordings and an extensive sleeve booklet is lovingly put together by musical explorers Etienne Sevet and Lucas Silva, both of whom are familiar with the music and culture of Columbia. Yet more evidence of the rich diversity in Columbian music and until now virtually unknown outside its borders and those of neighbouring countries. Tim Stenhouse