As King Coya, Argentine producer Gaby Kerpel pushes a thrilling mix of traditional South American folk with global club beats | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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As King Coya, Argentine producer Gaby Kerpel pushes a thrilling mix of traditional South American folk with global club beats

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Gaby Kerpel has spent nearly two decades pushing traditional music forms from South American toward electronic music, recontextualizing styles like Colombian cumbia and Andean huayno with inventive club rhythms. It makes sense that the Argentine musician, who makes club work under the name King Coya, was embraced by the electro-cumbia adherents behind Buenos Aires’s ZZK label. Unlike many of his labelmates, Kerpel has steadfastly retained the sound of traditional music in his creations, making prominent use of sweet-toned native string instruments like the charango and ronroco as well as plaintive wooden flutes such as the tarka. At the same time, his deft production skills extend beyond the beats of South America to include heavy infusions of Jamaican dancehall and Angolan kuduro. Kerpel’s new album, Tierra de King Coya, features vibrant vocal cameos from a slew of guest artists, including forceful electro-cumbia singer La Yegros and traditional Peruvian healer Isabel Pinedo Rengifo, who adds spellbinding shamanic chants to “Icaro Llama Planta.” Kerpel’s reedy, commanding singing effectively melds past and present in a way that reminds me of a more adventurous Manu Chao. He’ll perform with singer-dancer trio Queen Cholas (all in costumes that combine folkloric patterns and modern fabrics) as part of LatiNxt Festival, a free two-day event that brings together an impressively wide variety of artists who mix electronic beats and traditional rhythms.   v

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