Andrés Landero ‘Yo Amenicí’ 2LP/CD (Vampi Soul) 4/5

Colombian accordionist Andrés Landero is something of a hidden treasure in the rootsier side of cumbia music. Born in 1931 on the Caribbean coastline of Colombia in the town of San Jacinto, Landero has performed in a variety of folk styles and these encompass cumbia, gaita, merengue, pasebol, paseo and puya. He belongs to something of a golden era in Colombian music and unsurprisingly, then, joined the gold standard label Discos Fuentes in late 1965 after a first label spell with Discos Curo. This anthology covers the period 1966-1982 that includes classic material from the mid-1960s through to a second stage in his career when he returned to the Fuentes stable in 1979. As a whole, the sound is heavy on percussion, with melodious basslines and myriad rhythms that showcase the sheer variety of sub-genres performed within. Thus there is bubbling accordion and percussion on ‘La muerte de Eduardo Lora’ with vocals and also on the fast-paced, La Cigarrona’, whereas on, ‘Mi macheté’, the rhythm is a good deal choppier. One of the finest songs is, ‘Mara del Carmén’, which has a beautifully rustic staccato rhythm.At first some of the riffs may come across as repetitive, but with repeated listens that sensation soon gives way to a feeling of being engulfed in a hypnotic groove as exemplified on, ‘Cuando lo negro sea bello’. Nicknamed the ‘King of Cumbia’, Landero’s popularity spread not only across his own country, but equally beyond and was especially well received in both Bolivia and Mexico. Another compelling number is, ‘Virgen de la candelaria’, with a catchy percussive intro.

As ever with the Vampi Soul re-issue programme, evocative and colourful photos of original vinyl sleeve covers abound. Extensive bi-lingual inner sleeve notes paint a wonderful picture of the musician and provide useful historical context. If it is the truly authentic sound of Colombian cumbia that you are in search for, then you are likely to find your musical nirvana with this altogether sumptuous offering.

Tim Stenhouse