Astro-Caribbean: Riddims and Revolutions (Music!)

Currently I am in the revision process of my poetry collection, and I was looking for a few inspirations for one of the poems in it. British-Jamaica dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson came to mind and it lead me to one of his poetry recordings, “Reality.”

A group who is also exploring Caribbean futurism, or as they call it “tropical futurism,” are Combo Chimbita from New York City. Remezcla recently did a feature on them — “NYC’s Combo Chimbita Search for the Future in Afro-Caribbean Psych on “No Regreso.”

Combo Chimbita describe themselves as “tropical futurists.” Their experimental psychedelic jams have cumbia as a starting point, but draw on everything from champeta and porros to Afropop, calypso, dub, and even Haitian kompa. The trippy “No Regreso,” off their forthcoming debut album Abya Yala, sounds like what would happen if Lee “Scratch” Perry produced a cumbia record with a little input from Ennio Morricone. “No Regreso” premieres today on Remezcla, and it sounds simultaneously forward-thinking and retro. There’s a certain freaky, punky energy that’s very New York City.

Inspired by Sun Ra and the concept of Afrofuturism, the members are envisioning a sound that broadly centers the global south: Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. “It means imagining a future with a cosmology derived from our ancestry, from our understanding of the world, instead of the Eurocentric version of how the future is supposed to be. It means seeing it and constructing it from a different perspective and a different way of seeing the world,” says guitarist Niño Lento, in an in-person interview with lead singer and guacharaquera Carolina Oliveros, and synth player and bassist Prince of Queens (In this band, they use stage names, though avid NYC-based music heads may recognize them from other projects). The band members don’t know what the tropical future looks like, but they are pretty sure it has more to do with reconnecting to the earth than blasting off into the stars. They are searching for the answers through their music.”

Read the rest by clicking on the link above and listen to “No Regreso” below!

Photo by Itzel Alejandra Martinez. Courtesy of Combo Chimbita

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