April 24, 2016
Charlotte is full of untold secrets, and by no means am I talking about the best brewery to do yoga in on a Tuesday. I’m talking about the secrets of the exciting culture bubbling up just below the frustrated surface of harsh-cornered condos and lost music venues. Within that rumbling underbelly there’s Patabamba: a bilingual, Latin-inspired four-piece creating their own exultant parade and welcoming you to dance along. Catching a Patabamba show is what I imagine stepping into another world is like; one full of only friends and a distant tradition rich in your blood (maybe you hadn’t noticed before) but nonetheless feel yourself ignite the moment a shekere is picked up.
Determined to get the right intention of the songs, their self-titled album was impressively recorded and engineered DIY-style by percussionist Davey Blackburn on first a Fostex 8-track, then a used 16-track Fostex (after the original 8-track broke) in multi-instrumentalist Claudio Ortiz’ garage. Blackburn remarks, “The approach is to make the best of what you have. Respecting and utilizing balance to find the place where the sound naturally sits was key to how I advanced and carried out recording.”
Mastered by Catalyst Recording, Patabamba’s album is nine songs of lively woven textures and styles, as if it were a family quilt stitched from the rhythm of laughs and conversations overheard at a park reunion. Starting out the album, “Me Alocas Tanto” is the ease of a window opening, the pristine, crisp flowing of yellow sunlight stepping into a dusky room. Synth player Liza Ortiz’s voice carries like an uninhibited dance in the middle of the street on “Rompecabezas” where the base of Blackburn’s percussion is the gentle back-and-forth scrape of a palette knife against a painter’s seasoned palette board. Track three, “Just Tell Me” creeps in as an organ dragging its cavernous heart across an old floor, tuneful turmoil with yearning David Byrne-esque vocals. The organ bleeds out into a cardiac lifeline synth that buoys complacently under vocalist Patrick O’Boyle’s croons. The layered beauty of the group vocals and guitar chords on “Sali a Buscar” is Pablo Neruda poetry, making a flower blush and bloom with its pure-heartedness. A slow-burning thunder sweeps across the progression the way a storm darkens a clear sky. Track five, “Sigan Bailando” brings shimmering, crystal guitar tones to the surface and displays a full spectrum of Patabamba’s rhythm section galloping swiftly across a Peruvian mountain.
Premiering today through CLTure is the Patabamba finisher track, “Todo Soporto” which features a cameo appearance of Ultima Nota’s saxophonist Oscar Huerta. Huerta’s sax beams as a decorated matador among roses while an orange summer breeze of chords and tight drums cultivate a narrative of heart and pride alongside. “Todo Soporto” draws the listener closer to its core in following with a saying that secrets are a sweeter form of communication because two hearts have to be close together when it is shared.
Patabamba is romantic with an invigorating blend of Latin, psychedelia, and rhythm that sweeps your feet into a dance before you can tell your body what to do. The album is a collaboration not just between four people, but between varying cultures, languages, genres, and expressions. The lyrics stream as a universally understood voice like the handshake of an ocean wave against bare ankles. Patabamba encompasses the feeling of adventure in much the same way a chef flambés their dishes creating flavors and aromas of exciting vibrancy out of thin air. Patabamba showcases a sense of cultural togetherness that flickers brightly on its own, but finds its lungs among the warm, wooden tones of South American heritage melding with Charlotte’s tightly-knit community. Patabamba releases their self-titled debut album throughout this month at a series of shows, but most standout is the April 29 show at Neighborhood Theatre as part of the New Latino Sound presented by Levine Museum of the New South.
The premiere of “Todo Soporto” by Patabamba
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