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Dark Wave Atmospheric Acid Cumbia Arrives: ‘El Keamo’ Comes Straight From L.A.’s San Fernando Valley

Just when you thought you'd heard all cumbia subgenres, here comes El Keamo and his atmospheric instrumental "Cumbia Dark Wave Gaze." It's a uniquely utilitarian variation that is both perfect for micro dosing LSD and zen-ing out, but not spooky enough to scare off your family from dancing to it at a backyard family party.

11:31 AM PST on January 26, 2024

Just when you thought you'd heard all cumbia subgenres, here comes El Keamo and his atmospheric instrumental "Cumbia Dark Wave Gaze."

It's the kind of utilitarian cumbia variation that can either optimize your micro-dosed work session as it plays in the background or zen out while still thinking of the sad state of today's world on the drive back home during rush hour on a Friday.

"El Keamo" is the alias of Alfredo González-Martinez, a multimedia artist from the San Fernando neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. A first-generation Mexican-American, Alfredo is influenced by the eclectic sounds he heard growing up in the city of L.A.

El Keamo is Alfredo's attempt to abstract the style of Mexican Cumbia with his style of electronic synthesizer sounds. The result is a distinctive cumbia sound unlike those heard at your local family party, with eclectic techno sounds contrasting over traditional Latin rhythms.

El Keamo is also the name of the 8-song album from the Los Angeles-based Mexican-American artist, coming out on Thursday, January 25th on record label Talacha. It is also available on digital streaming platforms as well as on 12” vinyl.

El Keamo is the alias of Alfredo González-Martinez.

Just as cumbia has morphed to custom-fit every region and culture it has reached, El Keamo now aims to follow this tradition of abstraction and transformation, pulling from personal and genre-based references across acid, deep house, cumbia rebajada, trance, high-energy cumbia tribal, dub, and beyond.

The album El Keamo nods to the playfulness of iconic Mexican cumbia groups like Los Kiero and Grupo Kual, though the sound departs from this groundwork.

As El Keamo went through an immersive introspective process of facing and overcoming self-doubt throughout the writing process, the output also offers a recorded rendering of the transmutation of that brave, explorative energy.

The record begins with “Amor Eterno,” a heady, synth-heavy track that glides through nostalgia for Los Angeles’ weeknight live music staples The Smell and Low-End Theory.

Downtempo “FiebreFiebreFiebre” revels in dub and 90’s G Funk influences, nodding to the ripples of cumbia innovation from Peruvian duo Dengue Dengue Dengue! “El Hablamocho” enters uptempo terrain with a cross-section of cumbia norteño, driven by a rolling bass layered with rave-inflected super-saws. 

“Space Duendez” invokes the feeling of cruising in the heat of a Los Angeles summer, with a mellow synth line referencing ATB’s “Til I Come."

“El Baile de Soraya” opens Side B of the record by leaning into a style contrasted by the mellow opening notes of bird calls. “Sonidero Funk” features a remastered version of the previously released track, with synths reverberating across an off-kilter melodic journey. “Low co” slows the pace to a laid-back intonation before moving into “La Noche se Acaba,” closing the record on a dripping, gloomy note.

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