The group most “prendido” of Chilean Cumbia is back with their second studio album, El Vacilón. Combo Ginebra offers high energy, danceable music for the masses in a unique fusion of domestic and international sounds.
Photo by Emilia Aguilera
The album, El Vacilón, was recorded in a studio, but might as well be a live performance captured at a local venue. Full of call-and-response chants and impromptu calls for crowd response, the only thing missing are the whistles and cheers, so prevalently heard at the Galpon Victor Jara, in between songs. There are instrumental jam sessions as well as catchy sing-alongs captured on this 11-track dance marathon, but if you’re looking for a soundtrack for your next carrete just hit play.
While impossible not to dance from start to finish, the album is not just cookie-cutter Cumbia. Combo Ginebra mixes a bit of Cumbia with Balkan sounds, some Punk balanced with Merengue, Flamenco styled with Villera and Chicha. Just as in the first album, Cumbias de Sangre y Oro, there are original songs as well as covers done in a distinct manner.
The title track “El Vacilón” is a fire-starter that ignites the album and invites people of all ages to join in together in celebrating this party. Other tracks like “En el Patio” and “No Quiero Envejecer” continue the fiesta while providing lyrics that all Chileans can relate to. The track “Ay Que Dolor!” is a cover of Spanish Flamenco artists Los Chinguitos and the medley “Pagarás / Loquito por ti / Mujer Dificíl” plays with Armando Hernandez’s “Loquito por ti” as well as Bomba Estereo’s “Fuego.”
Combo Ginebra has also undergone a large transformation in appearance. When I saw this group for the first time it was last Fiestas Patrias of 2011 and as they took the stage all wearing slick suits and matching hats, I commented to my friend that Marty McFly and his 50’s DooWop gang were back from the future. Now, sporting a more hip and wild look, the group gains new fans and hopes to attract more attention to their music.
As the genre of Cumbia in Chile becomes more international with acts like Chico Trujillo and Banda Conmoción voyaging abroad, the path is paved for Combo Ginebra and others to spread beyond Chile. However, Combo Ginebra might run into a few crossover appeal problems because of the inordinate amount of “Chilenismos” that the band infuses in their lyrics. The goal of their music is to capture the language used by Chileans and stay true to Chile. With or without translation the rhythms and sounds will reverberate on a global scale.
As fun as El Vacilón is to listen to in the apartment or walking around the city, there is no better experience than seeing Combo Ginebra live. And as Fiestas Patrias is just around the corner, there are a ton shows in the next couple of weeks.
September 2012 Schedule
To preview El Vacilón and download the album legally check out PortalDisc and buy the album for a small price of CP 3.990 ($8.00). Check out more music, pictures, and videos on the Combo Ginebra’s website.