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Combo Chimbita - Margarita

Combo Chimbita - Margarita

♫ > A1. Margarita
♫ > B1. Nene Dub (Mixed by Ticklah)


Progressive quartet Combo Chimbita debut the first release on their own label with a track that combines their psychedelic tendencies with the rootsy elements of dub reggae filtered through the guacharaca and chicha-influenced guitar of cumbia. “Margarita” and its dub companion “Nene” comprise a sonically lush 7-inch single that represents the latest chapter in the ever-evolving Combo’s sound. After a multi-year run that saw them grow from a loose improvisational collective into a compact, electrifying act that held enthralled concert halls in their hands, Combo Chimbita has entered a period of introspection and new experimentation. Turning to a producer who has been a guru of sorts to the Brooklyn scene, in late 2023 they entered the studio of Victor Axelrod, aka Ticklah, to record a couple new compositions. In contrast to the outward boundary-pushing of their last album, these new songs see the group burrowing deeply into their interior roots. “We wanted to make a song returning to cumbia, one of those rhythms that has influenced us,” says frontwoman Carolina Oliveros. The added ingredient of Ticklah — a musician and producer heavily steeped in the sonic stew of reggae — overseeing the recording added a distinctive flavor to the session, and gave the group room to “play with the nuances between dub reggae and cumbia,” as Oliveros puts it. “I like how the band brought in traditional Colombian elements, but never anything outright derivative,” Ticklah says. “Margarita” inhabits a middle ground, an in-between area much like that of Abya Yala, an indigenous name for the isthmus that connects South and Central America and, not coincidentally, the namesake of the group’s own newly formed label, of which this single is the first release. The metaphor runs deeper, as the group members’ lives are lived between their Colombian heritage and their assumed status as immigrants in New York City (and, given their international fame, further beyond), and deeper still as the themes of displacement and mutable identity are threaded thru Oliveros’s lyrics. The ambiguity of time, space, and meaning itself coalesce in the combination of those hair-raising, utterly soulful vocalizations — “what I cannot say by speaking,” Oliveros explains — and the hypnotic rhythm born of the unspoken communication between Niño Lento, Prince Of Queens, and Dilemastronauta. The vocal version of “Margarita” is backed by a trademark Ticklah dub version of the cut (“Nene Dub”), awash in analog delays and King Tubby-like punch-ins and drop-outs, shot through with Oliveros’s plaintive cries to “not worry” (“no te preocupes”).