Systema Solar is a Colombian cumbia/funk DJ crew we caught here at South By Southwest in March. Their infectious, bass-heavy cumbia beats make it hard for one to stand still. This month they finally released their much anticipated self-titled album, which we hoped would bring some of the energy from their amazing live show through our speakers. After listening to the album from beginning to end, it comes close.
Right away this album will catch and hold your attention with “Bienvenidos,” a fast-tempo cumbia jam with heavy bass lines. Combine those elements with some African rhythms and that makes up their signature sound almost throughout the entire album. It is not a bad thing by any means, especially if you are a fan of cumbia music. Despite this party vibe, like most groups from Latin America, Systema Solar does get political. “Mi Kolombia” is a song about the struggles of Colombians seeking visas to the U.S. It is not common for music coming out of Latin America to mix politics and dance music.
Lyrically, Systema Solar mostly sing as a group and kind of chants more than sings. Although it is a simple formula, it totally works for them. You will also hear them break out a freestyle rap (en español) in a raspy reggae-ish voice once in a while, depending on whether or not it fits the song. Not all tracks on the album are gems. While their attempt at slowing things down is appreciated, “En Los Huesos” drags and even bores. It is just not Systema Solar does best.
That being said, it is clear that Sytema Solar’s music was made for parties and high powered mobile sound systems or pikos as they are known in Colombia. The new self-titled Systema Solar album is an album that can be played at parties, family gatherings, clubs, discotecas and iPods. If you are looking to relax or need something calming, look elsewhere. Systema Solar will have even the rhythmically challenged moving.