CHANCHA-VIA CIRCUITO-BIENAVENTURANZA. 

Chancha Via Circuito-Bienaventuranza.

Label: Wonderwheel Records.

Four years after Chancha Via Circuito released his critically acclaimed third album Amansara which introduced his genre-melting music to a new and wider international audience, one of music’s mavericks returns with the eagerly awaited followup Bienaventuranza which has just been released by Brooklyn based Wonderwheel Records. Bienaventuranza marks the welcome return of Chancha Via Circuito whose recording career began thirteen years ago in 2005.

That was when Pedro Canale, who was then living in Southern Buenos Aires, began his production career. Initially, he recorded instrumental tracks where he combined electronics with acoustic instruments. Soon, he began adding vocals to these tracks as he continued to hone his production skills and in by 2007, was ready to release a mini album.

By then, producer Pedro Canale came to prominence as part of Buenos Aries’ famous digital cumbia scene and dawned the moniker Chancha Via Circuito, who was already gaining a reputation for pushing musical boundaries. 

Soon, Chancha Via Circuito was gaining a reputation as a musical alchemist who fused the unlikeliest of musical genres. Brazilian rhythms were combined the music of the Andean mysticism, Argentinean folklore and the Paraguayan harp. To this mix Chancha Via Circuito added elements of avant-garde, electronica and post dub-step. The result was music that’s futuristic and innovative music for ‘21st’ Century dancefloors. It was also music that caught the imagination of other artists and music lovers.

In 2007, Chancha Via Circuito released the mini album Kumbia$ Gauchito which showcased the skills of one of the rising stars of the Buenos Aires’ digital cumbia scene. Buoyed by the response to Kumbia$ Gauchito, Chancha Via Circuito began work on his debut album Rodante, which was released a year later in 2008. 

Rodante.

When Chancha Via Circuito released his debut album Rodante in 2008, it featured a cast of guest artists. This included Khumba Keta, Jahdan and Rancho MC and with their help, Chancha Via Circuito who created an ambitious and innovative album where they reinvented cumbia on Rodante.

Rodante was a genre-melting album, and saw Chancha Via Circuito and his friends take cumbia in new directions on what was akin to a magical mystery tour. It was a case of expect the unexpected during what was a truly refreshing and innovative album, which caught the imagination of other artists.

Cumbia, other artists realised, was only the starting point for Chancha Via Circuito, and was just one of many musical building blocks on the album. What he added to cumbia made all the difference. This inspired other artists to follow in Chancha Via Circuito’s footsteps of the young musical alchemist, whose futuristic sounding music would fill dancefloors. It was a similar case with Chancha Via Circuito’s sophomore album Rio Arriba.

Rio Arriba.

Tree years later, in 2011, Chancha Via Circuito returned with his much-anticipated sophomore album, Rio Arriba. By then, other artists and music fans were keen to hear what direction Chancha Via Circuito’s would head on Rio Arriba. 

Pedro Canale had also been releasing music as Universildo, and in 2009, had released the album Luces del Aire. After that, Pedro Canale concentrated on Chancha Via Circuito’s sophomore album Rio Arriba which saw his music continue to evolve. Standing still wasn’t an option for Chancha Via Circuito

He created what was a remarkable album by taking obscure Latin rhythms, chopping them up, and combining them with native drum beats and South American folklore. All these ingredients were given a contemporary twist by Chancha Via Circuito on Rio Arriba, which was an ambitious album. 

Rio Arriba was released to critical acclaim and hailed as a groundbreaking album from Chancha Via Circuito. His star was in the ascendancy, and critics believe Chancha Via Circuito had a big future in front of him. That proved to be the case. 

Following the commercial success and critical acclaim of Rio Arriba, Chancha Via Circuito was asked to remix several high profile tracks. This included tracks from The Ruby Suns, The Gotan Project and a track for Giles Peterson’s Havana Remixed project. Still Chancha Via Circuito found time to release new music, and in 2012, the Semillas EP was released. The following year, 2013, Chancha Via Circuito contributed the track Lacandona to the Sub Pop 1000 compilation. It seemed that the success of Rio Arriba had transformed Chancha Via Circuito’s career. He returned in 2014 with his third album 

Amansara.

Amansara was worth the three-year wait and saw Chancha Via Circuito return with an album that fuses a myriad of disparate musical influences. As a starting point, Chancha Via Circuito uses cumbia, and adds to that avant-garde, electronica, experimental, hip hop, industrial, Latin and soul. The soul comes courtesy of Lido Pimienta and Miriam García who add deeply soulful. They provide a contrast to Chancha Via Circuito’s arrangements which are all different.

That was also the case with Rio Arriba and on which was released to plaudits and praise, musical maverick continued to reinvent his music. He succeeds in doing so on Amansara which is a genre-melting, musical journey that features ambitious and innovative music that is captivating and found Chancha Via Circuito reaching new heights. However, the big question was what was next from Chancha Via Circuito?

Bienaventuranza.

During the four years since Chancha Via Circuito released Amansara, critics and music fans were wondering what direction the digital cumbia pioneer’s music would head on his fourth album. Meanwhile, Chancha Via Circuito was writing the twelve tracks that would eventually feature on his new album Bienaventuranza. It was recorded with the help of a Chancha Via Circuito’s friends. 

This includes Mateo Kingman, Miriam Garcia, Gianluz, Lido Pimienta and Kaleema. Just like Chancha Via Circuito, they’re among the leading lights of the digital cumbia scene. Other musicians who joined Chancha Via Circuito in the studio are percussionist Federico Estevez and Manu Ranks whose one of the finest purveyors of Colombian dancehall. He just happened to be in Buenos Aries and had some free time, and headed into the studio to record La Victoria which also features Lido Pimienta’s radiant voice. Just like all the collaborations on Bienaventuranza, they were recorded quickly and before long all the pieces of the jigsaw started to fall into place.

The vocals were part of Chancha Via Circuito’s carefully crafted musical tapestry which includes a myriad of samples, dancefloor friendly drum beats and the Andean instruments which have become part of his trademark sound. Chancha Via Circuito adds an Andean flute and charango as he continues to combine Latin folk music,  cumbia, dancehall, electronica and house. Gradually, Bienaventuranza started to take shape, but it was a couple of years before it was complete. If Bienaventuranza was a meal, it would’ve been cooked in a slow cooker. However, Bienaventuranza was a delicious dish that is guaranteed to tantalise the music lover.

That was the case from the enchanting multilayered instrumental  Los Pastores which opens Bienaventuranza and showcases Chancha Via Circuito’s trademark sound. Mateo Kingman, a kingpin of the digital cumbia scene steals the show on Ilaló as his vocal veers between heartfelt, impassioned, tender and emotive. It’s delivered against an arrangement that features a myriad of acoustic instruments, percussion, samples and crispy drumbeats. 

It’s all change on Barú where Chancha Via Circuito deploys samples, Andean instruments and beats as digital cumbia, folk, hip hop and cinematic sounds are combined. Just like previous tracks, Chancha Via Circuito throws the occasional curveball during one of the highlights of Bienaventuranza. Nadie Lo Riega features Miriam Garcia’s vocal which provides the perfect contrast to the lo-fi and percussive arrangement as digital cumbia, electronica and folk are combined. Just like on Barú, eerie, haunting samples and Andean instruments are combined before marching to the beat of pied piper Chancha Via Circuito’s drum on this joyous track.

Very different is Niño Hermoso where a buzzing bass synth sets the scene for Gianluz’s vocal as another of the leading lights of the digital cumbia scene takes a bow. Here, Chancha Via Circuito takes a less is more approach to the arrangement allowing Gianluz’s vocal to play a starring role. This is followed by the short keyboard led interlude El Señor Del Flautín, which breaks the album up nicely, and sets the scene for La Victoria which features one of the biggest names on the Colombian dancehall scene, Manu Ranks. He’s joined by Lido Pimienta a star of the digital cumbia scene who delivers a radiant, soulful that is the perfect foil for Manu Ranks. This she does against a carefully crafted and distinctive multilayered arrangement that makes La Victoria one of the highlights Bienaventuranza. 

Kawa Kawa roots can be traced to an improvised jam that took place during a rehearsal when Chancha Via Circuito was joined by vocalist Kaleema and percussionist Federico Estevez. Little did they realise that this would end up in beautiful, haunting, percussive track with a contemporary sound  where Kaleema’s ethereal spiritual vocal takes centre-stage.

Alegría is a mixture of the ancient and modern, where Chancha Vía Circuito deploys hypnotic beats, eerie cinematic samples, synths and traditional percussion. They play their part in the sound and success of this irresistible genre-melting track. Indios Tilcara has much in common with the previous track as traditional folkloric instruments and percussion joins forces with Andean instruments and cinematic samples on this dubby, filmic track that is full of surprises. Closing  Bienaventuranza is Gira Gira which veers between dramatic to spiritual as a drum accompanies the vocals during this ruminative and meditative track that closes the album on high.

Four years is a long time to wait for any album, but Chancha Vía Circuito’s fourth album Bienaventuranza has been well worth the wait. Just like his last couple of albums, Bienaventuranza is another carefully crafted, genre-melting album from musical alchemist Chancha Vía Circuito as he continues to create ambitious, innovative and interesting music. This is what critics and music fans have come to expect of Chancha Vía Circuito since he released his sophomore album Rio Arriba in 2008. 

Since then, Chancha Vía Circuito’s career has been on an upward trajectory as one of the leading lights of the digital cumbia scene continues to reinvent himself with each album he releases. That is the case with Bienaventuranza which has just been released by Wonderwheel Records and finds the Buenos Aries producer returning with what may well be his finest hour.

Chancha Via Circuito-Bienaventuranza.

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