Conjunto Papa Upa made it clear with their 2013 debut single on Music With Soul - they would be the torchbearers of the modern day musical explorations of Venezuelan polyrhythmic grooves.
An oft-forgotten neighbor in the now heavily publicized and compiled sounds of Colombia, Peru & Brazil - Venezuela has historically featured a rich & diverse melting pot of sounds that share influences from the Atlantic, Pacific & the US. Perhaps it is in that unique blend of sounds, along with its combination of instrumentation & amplification that makes it equally hard to describe as it is
Fortunately, Alex Figueira, no stranger to the cavernous depths of 1970’s tropical music on wax - and known from his other project, Fumaça Preta - has continued in the buried traditions of his native Venezuela with Conjunto Papa Upa.
Their newest single, in true Music With Soul tradition, is another double sider, may you chose which song you want to make your A side. El Jalabolismo opens with a direct dose of 60’s Sudamérica style surf-garage. An electrified combination of rock and roll, Guaguancó, Samba and Parranda through the looking glass of the scorching hot Caribbean coast. The relentless and pulsating lo-fi guitar riff gives way to the rebellious lead vocals, describing how an epidemic of systematic “Ass Kissing” can destroy a country, in a clear reference to the current political landscape of Venezuela. Things build into the massive chorus declaration, a fundamental call for the ephemeral character of every democracy, and the need to preserve yours (if you're lucky enough to live in one), followed by a totally unexpected cuica intervention and a furious Timbales
solo. A mix you have probably never heard before.
Apriétalo, begins with the subtlest touch of an electrified guitar lick before the rhythm section begins chugging along effortlessly behind the mysterious, echo-drenched vocals of Figueira, this time possessed by the spirit of “Chamo Ismael”, one of the “Holly Thoughs” of Venezuela (Google that up), warning all decent people of Caracas not to walk the streets at night, for all sorts of horrible things could happen. The trippy character of the tune is reflected on every one of the instruments recorded, from the hypnotic bass line and the disturbing wah wah to the pulsating voodooish rhythms of the maracas and congas and the inherent spookyness of the almighty semibroken combo organ, reminding the more familiarized listeners of popular Latin rhythms such as Cumbia or Salsa but with a more prominent African presence, a constant element in the music of Conjunto Papa Upa. Once again with this new single, Conjunto Papa Upa continues to blaze their own trail within the massive tropical community that permeates the worldwide underground scene, making it hard for most to believe that these songs have been recorded in Amsterdam, in 2015. Available from 10.07.2015