Sotomayor ‘Orígenes’ LP/CD (Wonderwheel Recordings) 5/5

As we get older what looks like a good time to us starts to shift. What used to be late nights out in loud streets is now literally one hit of herb, a paintbrush and some headphones. In our youths we wanted to escape into other people, now it’s more of an escape into ourselves. Tapping into that, Mexican brother-sister duo Sotomayor’s third studio release Orígenes is a channel for both. Produced by multiple Grammy award-winning producer Eduardo Cabra (Calle 13), Paulina and Raul Sotomayor have created a stunning, intelligent and hard-hitting piece of art. Orígenes takes us to our roots, marrying cumbia, Peruvian chicha and pulsating percussion with electronica and house, creating something that is accessible to all listeners. Orígenes’ offerings could be found in any self-respecting club while still being the perfect accompaniment to a solo good time.

I was impressed at how smart this album is. Everything was so clearly thought out and intentional. The way Paulina morphs her voice to evoke different feelings in each song, it adds so much complexity and depth to what could at the surface seem like just another pop song. Add to that the nuance of Raul’s sonic foundation, the way he serves up these incredible beats creating an entire universe in each song. Sotomayor’s strength has always been their musicality; Orígenes takes that to another level. The structure of the album further confirms how considered Orígenes really is. They start you off with the digitized and thumping “Nunca es Tarde” and bring you home with “Ella” a deeper, slower ode to the marvel that is Woman.

Each song brings something different to the table, underpinned by this constant reminder of who the hell you are. So many lyrics could be taken down, written on sticky notes and placed on your mirror, setting your intention for the day before you head out into the big bad world. “Esta Vez” is this beautiful cloud forest of a song calling you back to your voice. Paulina’s calming vocals declare, “no me lo voy a callar…yo te lo quiero decir…es que no puedo parar”. I’m not going to shut up, I want to tell you that I’m not going to stop. An important memento to take with you after the song is over. Beyond the loving reminders in the song, the guitar in “Esta Vez” is transformative, it alone makes the whole album worth listening to.

Orígenes is full of these moments. Yes, Sotomayor is taking us back to the roots of what makes up our music, but they also take us back to the roots of ourselves. Orígenes is music for women, for people of colour, for the marginalized. “Nunca es Tarde” asserts in the midst of knee bending beats “si queremos gritar es importante escuchar”. If we want to shout you must listen. Or “Latin History Month”, which urges you to be “el que siembra la tierra”. Be the one who sows the seed. “Despierta” is an alarm clock, waking you up to your potential. Utilizing perfectly paced percussion that will raise you right up out of bed, and this guitar that just makes you want to live longer, the song perked me right up, just as promised. The whole of the album upholds that we are the creators, the originators and that will not be lost to the history books.

Orígenes is dancefloor therapy, dancefloor spirituality. Through dancing, you can transcend to spirit creating openings to better hear the message of the song. Orígenes permeates the tough exterior we’ve had to create to get through the day, filling us back up with our creative power. When people pray to their god(s) they get on their knees, humbling themselves in deference and gratitude to the power before them. Listening to the power in Orígenes, my knees are also the vehicle to prayer and power, gratefully bending and extending as the beat commands, taking me through a physical meditation. My only complaint is that I wish the songs were four times longer. Sometimes it felt like I was just getting into the groove and the song would be over, cutting my enjoyment short. But I guess maybe it’s a reminder that the best things are savoured in small bites so we can love them in the moment with greater presence and attention. Throughout, Orígenes begs us to acércate un poco más. And you will, I promise.

Molly Gallegos