Stylistic Tones of Cumbia Oscuro: Los Hipnopómpicos

Imagine the moment when you are just waking up and coming back to reality; when things seem real but nothing is concrete and everything is wavering. This is known as the “hypnopompic state” (in Spanish “hipnopómpica"), the term Los Hipnopómpicos is named after and the sensation the band produces when they perform.

itemId=12413 Photo by Solange Reyes Poblete

Starting with only four members a mere six months ago, the Chilean band now features eight musicians and has come a long way, as seen in their recent performance at La Barcaza on September 30. Though their performance was a bit hampered due to sound and technical issues, their talent still shined brilliantly.

itemId=12438 Photo by Solange Reyes Poblete

Los Hipnopómpicos created a party onstage, with their abundance of band members switching instruments and playing animatedly. Carolina Ibanez, lead singer and kazoo player, was accompanied by her male band members playing acoustic guitar, electric guitar, accordion, drums, keyboard and banjo; a female guest singer also intermittently left her seat in the audience and joined the band.

While this may seem a bit busy (and it was at times), they came together in a style all their own, producing a coherent, pleasant sound that allowed the audience to still hear each individual instrument. What they were lacking was a little more organization in their instrumental amplitude, and with that, the ability to help the audience have as much fun as they seem to have playing the self-described music of Cumbia oscuro. This type of music has a Cumbia rhythm but with a dramatic twist and a mix of other vanguard styles that include swing.

The show at the Providencia venue started with some instrumental tunes courtesy a two-man folk band---musicians that turned out to be part of Los Hipnopómpicos as well. Although a nice intro, the main act brought much more energy, starting off a bit slow but picking it up with a couple swing-inspired songs, melodic voices, instrument-switching and theatrical/poetic-type songs.

itemId=12453 Photo by Solange Reyes Poblete

The combination of music, the sheer number of musicians and the dancing on stage all added to a circus-like effect by the band. Unfortunately, the crowd was a different story.

The audience was a bit small and it seemed like most of them were acquaintances of the band. Then again, it was a Wednesday night. Whatever the reason, the audience was lacking a bit of energy, as was also noted by the band's guitarist. It also wasn't until near the end of the show that people finally got up to start dancing--something that should have happened much sooner.

Despite the lack of that little something, Los Hipnopómpicos’s performance at La Barcaza was definitely buena onda because of their ambition, unique Cumbia oscuro style and genuine enjoyment of what they were doing.

They are only six months old yet have great potential and creativity. A past performance at La Maquina on a Saturday night (and without technical issues) also proves that this band has more than enough energy and talent to get the crowd moving and up on their feet.

Check them out on MySpace or Facebook for information on upcoming shows, or just to hear their innovative tunes.

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