Unlike many others, Puerto Candelaria doesn’t try to hide the fact that music is an act. Although it’s easy to get fooled, in no way is it so that the reality that our favorite artists sing about is identical to the one we live in.
For this reason, the Colombian cumbia orchestra has done what Scandinavian rap groups Malk de Koijn and Klovner i Kamp did before them: Dress up and take new names. Our personal favorite is El Sargento Remolacha (The Beetroot Sergeant), the alias of bandleader Juancho Valencia.
This does not only reveal the humor in Puerto Candelaria’s music, but also their carnivalistic nature. As an originally Catholic festive season, the carnival was the time of year when normal citizens were allowed to turn the world upside down and make fun of the authorities. In that sense the title of their fourth full-length record, «Cumbia Rebelde» (2011), alludes to the band’s vision of unveiling the absurdity in their home country, be it the government or cultural codes.
Their rebellious cumbia first and foremost transcends genre. By fusing this traditional Colombian dance music with rock, funk and Latin American urban music – including nods to cumbia’s distant cousin, Balkan jazz – Puerto Candelaria pushes cumbia in refreshing directions.
Thanks to the addition of a sorely missed feminine voice, Magaly Alzate (aka Maga La Maga), they now enter their sixteenth year as a new and even better band.
Text: Kim Klev