A bilingual blog by Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero dedicated to all things fun, like music, cinema, comedy and sci-fi. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org - Un blog bilingüe de Carmelo Ruiz Marrero dedicado a todo lo que sea divertido, como música, cine, comedia y ciencia ficción. Contacto: email@example.com
Back in 2007, those looking to find Pedro Canale, the musician who records as Chancha Via Circuito, could most easily find him sitting in the back at Zizek, a weekly club night in his hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina. (The night would eventually spawn a label and is known these days as ZZK.) There was a party goin' on, but underneath the noise and flash sat Chancha, patiently manning the merch table and selling a handful of releases from local producers and DJs. The best thing on offer happened to be the smallest item on the table: his own debut EP, which was only available as a 3" mini CD-R. Those five exquisite songs shaped fragments of South American folk into lucid-dream beat loops, the music aware of contemporary electronic production trends and a dubwise approach to space, but not beholden to either. While many of his peers in the emergent Buenos Aires scene were making mashups or cumbia dancefloor edits, Canale was crafting subtler tunes, unhurried combinations of bass, drums, and melody that seemed simple but always left the room's air charged with energy.
Seven years later, Canale is still building songs that widen to create spaces. He has no need for big drops or other dancefloor rush dynamics. Many tropical bass producers rely on splicing traditional sounds into the current hot genre—today, the rootsy Afro-Colombian female acapella gets the trap remix, two years back, it got the moombahton remix, a couple of years before that, it got the cumbia remix… and so on. People call this style of global swirl homage, but more often than not, it's a paternalistic turn, one that treats indigenous music as raw material, something that's authentic but insufficient, a resource to be extracted then improved by a stacked synth bassline or an 808 kick-and-snare combo.
Chancha Via Circuito's music takes another tack. He understands that folk music in Latin America is sustenance for those who live it, and is therefore less concerned with sonic newness than he is with maintaining a groove and communicating a sense of pride in place. And the places Canale creates are oneiric, placid, and haunted by unlikely perspectives, like the jungle paintings of proto-Surrealist Henri Rousseau or, closer to home, the Rousseau-inspired, ayahuasca-lit illustrations by Paula Duro that accompany all of his music.
Canale's studio becomes the arena where he negotiates this respect for traditional sounds and the natural world with the infinite possibilities of digital music production. On the one hand, he uses shockingly realistic German sample packs to play Andean flute melodies. On the other, he'll get up before dawn to climb Mayan pyramid ruins in Belize, digital recorder in hand, because that's when the monkeys do their most otherworldly howling. Canale is a producer who keeps a weathered African balafon next to his laptop to remind him not to fall into the computer's flattening world, and does some of his finest work in the magic pair of hours when his studio receives direct sunlight. The goal is balance.