I first heard about this Alpine companion of Saint Nicholas in the context of the Black Pete controversy in my own country. History is particularly shadowy when it comes to the origins of these folkloric traditions. Santa Clause is one of the most in-your-face cultural export products of America. But an essential part of the tradition is that kids grow up with the image of Santa Clause as a real person, living in a carefully hidden but actual part of the North Pole, were a legion of assistant elves manufactures toys and manages Santa’s air-sleigh based logistics. This has always been the same and will remain so forever. Of course, any nasty attempt to stop Santa from bringing joy and happiness to kids will be prevented in a heroic, American way…
The same thing is the case in the Netherlands. Although nobody knows how exactly the blackfaced Pete entered the scene, the ‘whole picture‘, which emerged in the 19th century, is being truly believed by successive generations of children: Sinterklaas, a tall, centuries-old and endlessly rich bishop, lives in an actual part of Spain where a legion of ‘Moorish servants’ manages Saint Nick’s logistics based on a steamboat and a roof-riding horse.
But much older traces of this folklore are found in many places of Europe. Candies have taken the place of, and are still accompanied by seeds and nuts and fruits (fertility symbols..?). Saint Nick’s companions as boo-mans equipped with canes and baskets, ready to beat and kidnap naughty kids (“so, be good for goodness’ sake…!”) and reinforce the duality between good and evil, have been a central part of the tradition basically everywhere.
In Austria, Switzerland and parts of Germany, these monsters will probably take you to a place far worse than Spain or the North Pole if you misbehave… During the last weeks of November and the first week of December, they roam around in town and on Christmas fairs and appear in organised parades, the krampuslaufs. They make noise with chains and cowbells, scaring women with canes (phallus symbols..?) and sometimes even beating them with sticks or engaging in sort of a ritual battles with young men, depending on the region. In some places, krampus events have become spectacles with music, fire shows and sometimes even themed parties.
Funny thing is, Krampus has rocketed in popularity in America, probably as a response to the over-commercialisation of Christmas. There has been a wave of Christmas cards and other initiatives introducing the krampus and even parades are happening now in different places in the US, like Philadelphia.
All this made me fantasise how epic badass it would be if these beasts, with their chains, cowbells and fire torches, came to Mexico to dance the cumbia rebajada, spiced up with metal riffs and grunts and industrial kicks and synths. Or on the sort of gothic cumbia that La MiniTK del Miedo (one of our favourite nu-cumbia bands!) makes. I quickly tried to make such a track but I couldn’t find enough time to do it properly..
But of course there’s enough cumbia left to dance this week, so let’s move on to that now!
First the mixtape, which is delivered by Dj Caution this week. Based in Madrid, this flexible dj/producer ‘s got some nice latin-bass tracks out there, checke them out! It’s the first time I blog him personally but I’ll definitely keep you updated about his new work.
I was almost afraid I would not be able to find a track brutal enough for krampuses to be impressed by.. until I ran into this experimental track, dropping heavily distorted noises over a slow cumbia beat with hard kicks. The producer is Blackmandingo from Argentina, who is specialised in the combination of cumbia, hiphop and ‘dark’.. A perfect welcome for krampus in Argentina.. airhornn !!
The transnational bass formation from Barcelona Los Chicos Altos have give a more mellow twist my theme, with their great EP ‘El Diablo Allegre’ (The Happy Devil) which was released on Urban World Records, little more than a week ago. It contains a wide and varied collection of tracks running from salsa-bass to baltimore and jungle. But the EP starts with this cumbia-jungle banger!
The other most important release is obviously the delicious remixes EP of Umoja‘s Vuelo Nocturno, on INI movement. This Amsterdam based label has been specialising in future dub with a transnational flavour.
The cumbia contribution on the EP comes from Dany F!
And of course don’t his other new deep-cumbia track: Merecumbe!
Hydroselekter has become a regular guest over the last weeks and not without reason. Here is his newest work, a badass Mexican-style trapification of a slowed-down cumbia classic… always a good recipe!
Badass is also the best applicable word for this cumbia-hiphop mashup from Stereo Revuelta. I must have missed it last week but it this week it fits quite smoothly. A gozarr !!
When I ran into this track from Mybraa, I immediately recognised it as the Tepito track from El Catorce which I blogged in one of my first posts. This one is a raggamuffin-hiphop edit of that track, released some weeks ago for the Cassete Blog’s 3rd anniversary. For some reason it wasn’t uploaded on Soundcloud until yesterday.. but here it is anyway, grab the compilation it’s free!
Before I’ll finish with some club preparation, I must share this mesmerising acoustic recording from PachamamaSound.
Make sure you also check out their second Minimal-Electro cumbia compilation.. I don’t remember whether I blogged in its entirety but it’s just to awesome not to share !
More than time for a night of clubbing. When it comes to party-vibed stuff to get into the right mood, Tiestoriki, the unbeaten number 1 channel for Mexican cumbiaton is never disappointing. Check out this fresh new track from Dj Tobhe & DJ Jess.
Now hurry up and party..! If krapus catches you misbehavin’, there’s always the excuse: cumbia made me do it..