First Look: Fantasma’s Electro-Cumbia


On Fantasma City,
the Buenos Aires
collective serves up a spirited, polyglot mix of electro, cumbia, hip hop,
reggaeton, and more.(hear their version of the Specials’ “Ghost Town,” below.) Out now in the U.S. on FireAnt Music.


By Carl Hanni

We live in the age of global groove cross-over, and
the musical migrations seem to be picking up speed and shedding inhibitions as
they go along. Nations may fuss and fight, but increasingly musicians, it
seems, want to mix and match from the wide palette of world musics. This is
nothing new, of course; musicians worldwide have been crafting all kinds of fascinating
combinations for as long as music has been prefaced with the word ‘popular.’


South America and the Caribbean
seem to have consistently been ahead of the game here. Going back at least as
far as the late ‘50s and early ‘60s and you’ll find thousands of examples of
local combos taking little bits of whatever they heard on the radio, mixing it
in with what was hot at the local record shop or sound system with their own
local music, and turning out one fabulous hybrid after another. Whether it’s
from Columbia, Peru,
Cuba or Jamaica, this
part of the world has long embraced music-as-melting-pot. 


Fast forward to 2010 and we have Fantasma, a group of
multi-disciplined musicians, artists, and filmmakers from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Not to be mistaken with Austin’s
fabulous Grupo Fantasma, Fantasma play a spirited, polyglot mix of electro,
cumbia, hip hop, reggaeton and whatever else they take a shine to that has a
sexy groove. Fantasma is pushing the pulsating cumbia groove into some new
territory and inviting everyone along to the dance. Definitively electro based
(but still using plenty of accordion), Fantasma make bouncing, buoyant,
infinitely danceable music that also has both humor and a socially relevant
aspect to it. 


Pretty much everything here is really strong and
consistent. “Danza Danza,” with a jaunty whistling chorus, melds electro cumbia
and reggaeton into an instant dance floor classic. “Encantador de
Serpientes” sounds like Egyptian Lover reborn as an intergalactic DJ street gang.
“Cumbia Que Pega” and “Muevelo Que Sube” bring the hip hop forward, while “El
Paisano,” “Esto Es Asi” and “Cumbia Callejera” work the electro cumbia groove
to perfection. Sure to draw some attention is a sci fi, Kraftwerked cumbia
version of “Ghost Town” by The Specials, a wickedly great re-imagining of
one of the signature songs of the 1980s. 


If you’re looking for some early summer in this endless winter,
Fantasma have condensed it down and put it onto a CD. Look no further. 


Listen to Fantasma’s cover of “Ghost Town”:

Fantasma – Ghost Town by Newton Las Pelotas!

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