Various ‘The Afrosound of Colombia Vol. 2’ CD/2LP (Vampi Soul) 5/5

afrosound-colombia-vol2If it is old-school cumbia, charanga and Afro-funk with a Colombian flavour you are after, then this beautifully presented and put together compilation by DJ Bongohead aka Pablo Yglesias is definitely for you. Recent years have seen the classic vaults of Discos Fuentes well and truly pillaged, yet there is still music of quality to be unearthed for a wider audience and this is very much a connoisseur’s guide to Afro-Colombian music with the offshoot labels Tropical and Machuca the subject of an-depth investigation here and the listener is most certainly the winner. For some collective call and response vocals plus accordion, then the percussive ‘Juventud flaca y loca’ by Lisandro Meza y su Combo Gigante will delight and there is some fine flute playing into the bargain. Breezy and rustic, ‘Cumbia de luna’ by the intriguingly named Combo Loco (crazy Combo) is an irresistible trip back in time while there are echoes of early salsa with brassy saxophone and joint lead vocals on Orquesta Ritmo de Sabanas and ‘Qué se hicieron’. Arguably strongest of all is the heavyweight Afro-Cuban rhythms of Michi Sarmiento y su Combo Bravo on the gorgeous sounding ‘Calenita’ with a fine piano solo. Sumptuously packaged in a deluxe edition inner sleeve complete with photos galore and extensive liner notes that leave practically no stone unturned on the information front, this mini anthology is finely rounded off by a terrific illustration on the cover with cartoon images of individual singers. A lovely creative way to attract our attention to the music, but in truth it needs little or no hype and stands up to the test of time magnificently.

Tim Stenhouse