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Musica Colombiana Andina: Music from Colombia

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Album Review

Niyireth Alarcón has spent a decade or so training herself in new techniques, uncovering traditional Andean song forms, and bringing her stylistic updates to bear upon Colombian music in general. With training as a classical mezzo-soprano, she brings an added element of technical phrasing to her songs that's rarely heard in otherwise traditional music. Here, she makes a run through a hefty series of song and rhythm genres, using a traditional backing band as a solid base upon which to deliver some surprising sets. The album opens with a bambuco that almost seems to take some rhythmic elements from modern flamenco fusion, moving directly into a pair of guabinas, much more stately and dramatic vocal pieces. More bambuco rhythms follow, but adapted to various formats — in "Besame Morenita," the sound is a strong version of Brazilian bossa nova, with extra dulcet tones in Niyireth's vocals. Before finishing out the album, she touches on a couple of pasillos (a quick Andean relative of the waltz), a couple of more stately contradance forms, and one highly recognizable form to fans of Andean music in the huayno. For an overview of regional Colombian/Andean formats, this album plays quite well. It eschews the overly clichéd pan pipes and bombas in favor of vocals and strings, and delivers exceptionally well.

Musica Colombiana Andina: Music from Colombia, Niyireth
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