The electronic cumbia of Bomba Estéreo dances on | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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The electronic cumbia of Bomba Estéreo dances on

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In the 90s, Bogotá bassist and producer Simón Mejia was strongly influenced by Sidestepper, a British and Colombian collective that combined electronic music with salsa and cumbia rhythms. He’s been following a similar blueprint with his band Bomba Estéreo since 2005, and the formula hasn't gotten old yet. That's in no small part thanks to Mejia's incendiary collaborator Li Saumet, who sings and raps with tireless, infectious grit. The band's most recent release, Live in Dublin (Polen), captures the butt-swiveling, arm-waving rush of their performances, with loose-limbed drumming from Andrés Zea and stinging wah-wah guitar from Jose Castillo vying for attention with Mejia's joyfully cheesy synth lines. The tracks "Raza" evoke the atmosphere of a raucous party on a flying saucer, with every space alien tentacle-slipping and hip-dipping off into the stratosphere. Saumet attacks their 2010 breakthrough hit "Fuego" with passion, imploring listeners to keep the party going as she spits out the chorus, "Mantenlo prendido fuego / No lo dejes apagar y grita 'fuego'" ("Keep it on fire. Do not let it go, and shout 'fire.'"), as coiled rhythms find the common ground between Colombia and Jamaica. World beat and electronic dance music can both get tedious, but Bomba Estéreo keeps them fresh by shaking them together.   v

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