Nacional Records recording artist, Bomba Estereo, is a five-piece Colombian Reggae Fusion band. Their latest release, Blow Up, is a unique collective of different Latin and Afro Caribbean sounds. It is difficult to make comparisons off hand because not a lot of bands, other than Todos Tus Muertos or perhaps The B-Side Players, are in this genre. With all the different sounds and influences involved in Blow Up, it may appear on paper to be an unorganized, chaotic listening experience. Somehow Bomba Estereo make it all come together and make it a good fit for the vocal stylings of Li Saumet.
Blow Up begins with the song, “Cosita Rica”, which sounds more like something out of the World Music section in Barnes and Noble. Perhaps the guy from Horizontes (K.U.T) would play it, but no average listener is going to be won over with anything that sounds like “Cosita Rica”. It wasn’t until the next track, “Fuego”, that Blow Up peaked my interest. All of a sudden I found myself turning up the volume and really listening. “Fuego” is a rare cumbia and reggae gem that will have you dancing or jamming in your car. Li Saumet raps over the dope beat that includes subtle, NASA rocket launch samples. The only thing I can criticize is that fact that it needs more cow bell.
There were plenty of other tracks on Blow Up that I enjoyed, although none as much as “Fuego”. “Musica Accion” contains a cool electronic drum and bass sound mixed with reggae hip hop. It is a sound that isn’t often attempted by bands here in the U.S., so be sure and give it a listen. “Feelin” is a straight hip hop track I dug, set to an Afro Caribbean beat. Remember though, this is hip hop as heard by a Colombian ear. You should expect something more along the lines of other international hip hop artists such as Spain’s Mala Rodriguez, Brazilian Girls, maybe even M.I.A.
With such an eclectic sound and a great front woman, I expect big things from Bomba Estereo. Blow Up doesn’t hold a candle to their live set, which I saw at the Colombian showcase at SXSW this past March. Still, for those who love Latin, reggae, or urban music in Spanish, this album is worth your attention. It is not for the average listener, but it is for those who like to danceable music and who are seeking something different to listen to.
Check out the video for Bomba Estereo’s first single off of Blow Up, “Fuego”: