La Chiva Gantiva ‘Vivo’ (Crammed Discs) CD/Digital 4/5

la-chiva-gantiva-vivoWorld roots fusion has increasingly appealed to a wider audience with rock elements introduced and combined with more traditional roots flavours. Three Columbians, based in Brussels, have taken this musical kaleidoscope on and have come up with a sound that comes across as part inspired by Manu Chao, part Afro-Beat, yet retaining a modern update on the classic Cumbia groove of their native land. If anything they are a Latin American take on the now defunct Ojos de Brujo. Though recorded in Brussels, the album was mixed in New York by Joel Hamilton who, among others, has done production work for the likes of Bomba Estereo, Marc Ribot and Tom Waits. The band are at their rootsiest on the Cumbia-influenced ‘La Pecosa’ and ‘El Pollo’, the latter of which features some lovely clarinet work and pumped up percussion. Fans of Afro-Beat will enjoy the groove-laden ‘Esternando’ while the Latin-flavoured title track conjurs up the early 1980s Clash sound. At times the pace is a little too frenetic and some variety would be welcome on future albums. La Chiva Gantiva need to develop in greater depth some of the musical avenues that they are investigating here. No doubting their sincerity or energy, but it needs to be channelled into those sub-genres where they perform best. A little less rock and a greater emphasis on the beat will not go amiss. Live concerts at the UK River of music festival during the 2012 London Olympics and both Womad and London Jazz Festival appearances in 2013 first brought them to the attention of a British public. A limited number of UK concerts, principally in the south-east and south-west of England will take place from late April through to mid-August. Tim Stenhouse