Band: Combo Chimbita
Label: ANTI- / Indigo
"With a baseline in Caribbean sounds, the band has once again seamlessly incorporated influences of instrumental rock riffs, trap beats wrapped in singer Carolina Olivero’s hauntingly captivating voice." - Remezcla
"Combo Chimbita deals with the subconscious, while diving into shared mythologies; the circular guitar riff is hypnotic, while the percussive appeal lifts [their] music to another realm." - CLASH
Continuing their mystical saga, NYC’s Combo Chimbita roar back onto the global stage with the announcement of their cathartic new album IRÉ today, coming out via ANTI- on January 28. Afro-Caribbean transcendence, bewildering chants, booming drums and psychedelic distortion lay the rhythmic foundation for IRÉ, a testament to the ever expanding scope of Combo Chimbita's sonic palette and their modes of resistance in realms both spiritual and terrestrial.
Today the band has also shared a video for their new single “Oya” – watch it HERE. Filmed among the ruins of the abandoned Intercontinental Hotel in Ponce, Puerto Rico, the clip features a performance by interdisciplinary queer artist Lio Villahermosa whipping up an offering to Oya, orisha of the wind and ruler of storms.
“Oya is a very powerful feminine deity, goddess of storms and winds, guardian of cemeteries, and an entangled duel between calm and despair,” lead singer Carolina Oliveros explained. “So this song animates that reminder of a nuanced life where many of us share a calm external facade, while facing an internal whirlwind of uncertainty. It’s the meditative sigh that precedes moving forward toward our desires and dreams with conviction.”
IRÉ finds its rallying spark in convulsive present day realities by metabolizing the anxieties of systemic racism, capitalist decadence, totalitarian governments and the attempted erasure of queer and trans people. Early writing sessions in the summer of 2020 found Combo Chimbita grappling with the limbo of the COVID-19 pandemic, while a firestorm of Black Lives Matter protests swept through streets around the globe. Months later, they flew to Puerto Rico to record and mix the LP, bearing witness to the suffocating complexities of the island's imperialist tether to the U.S.
With every bang of the drum, IRÉ grew into an expanded canvas depicting and defusing existential tension, reaching critical mass in April 2021 as the band departed for Cali, Colombia. Plans to film videos for singles “Mujer Jaguar” and “Todos Santos” were postponed to prioritize and support one of the biggest people's uprisings in the country's modern history, where a new generation of Colombians continue the fight against corruption, state-sanctioned violence, and oppressive governance.
“Every day, young people across Abya Yala put their necks on the line,” says Oliveros, whose soaring wails on the wordless lead single “Mujer Jaguar” echo the traumas of her generation and galvanizes a battle cry for the next torch bearers across the album’s storytelling. The release of IRÉ is accompanied by four auto-fictional narrative videos with prominent queer and trans performance artists in Puerto Rico for singles “Memoria” and “Babalawo,” as well as “Oya” and the upcoming “Yo Me Lo Merezco.” The foregoing series, produced by trans director and manager Oscar Diaz, “builds a critical bridge with queer & trans artists whose work illuminate ways of resisting, of living, [and] of stretching into generations of wisdoms,” they added. Each single release has made this clearer, with UPROXX trumpeting Combo Chimbita as “making some of the most incredibly inspired music in the world right now... [and] pushing incredible boundaries in keeping these stories at the forefront.”
“It's important to listen and feel this worry and the desire to change and improve things,” adds Oliveros, capturing IRÉ’s transcendent purpose to heal and construct a new world through the power of music. Like the jaguar before them, Combo Chimbita carries on; delicate, resilient and roaring.
Band: Combo Chimbita
Label: ANTI- / Indigo
Through her folkloric mystique, otherworldly psychedelia, and a dash of enigmatic punk, Ahomale by Combo Chimbita catapults the sacred knowledge of our forebears into the future. Their second studio album and Anti- Records debut sees the visionary quartet drawing from ancestral mythologies and musical enlightenment to unearth the awareness of Ahomale, the album’s cosmic muse. Comprised of Carolina Oliveros’ mesmeric contralto, illuminating storytelling and fierce guacaracha rhythms, Prince of Queens’ hypnotic synth stabs and grooving bass lines, Niño Lento’s imaginative guitar licks, and Dilemastronauta’s powerful drumming, the lure and lore of Combo Chimbita comes into existence.
The legend begins with their first EP, 2016’s El Corredor del Jaguar, and followed up with the occult psychedelia of Abya Yala. In 2019’s Ahomale, the New York-by-way-of-Colombia troupe fuse the perennial rhythms of the Afro-Latinx diaspora with a modern-day consciousness, while tracing the prophetic traditions of our ancestry. “The more we’ve played music together, the more we began to discover things within ourselves that we were previously unaware of, almost like a energy. And that’s being communicated through our music,” explains Prince of Queens in the making of Ahomale.
Inspired by a Yoruba term Ahomale, meaning adorer of ancestors, Oliveros reveals her quest to connect with ancestral cosmology, which the Combo pays homage to. “Ahomale resurges from the visions that we’ve been having via our music and life, and the lyrics reflect a manifestation passed on through our ancestors and the gods,” she explains. “I wanted the album to convey the search for spiritual awareness, which ultimately serves as a revelation.” In a similar spirit, Niño Lento conveys: “The protagonist of this album whose name is Ahomale possesses the ability to communicate ancestral wisdom through the music.”
With the help of producer Daniel Schlett (The War on Drugs, Modest Mouse), the group’s rootsy experimental alchemy and metal strangeness take centerfold. Oliveros howls, yowls and chirps with gut-wrenching emotion, like on the languid mirage of “El Camino,” or plaintive frenzy of the title track. Whether rock raw and soulful or bewitching like a shaman in a spiritual ceremony, her voice is always a multifaceted wonder. “Brillo Más Que El Oro (La Bala Apuntándome)” boasts alluring vintage synths that seem to time travel through the lush tropics of yore; then, the mood intensifies when its bridge brilliantly crosses into a spellbinding chant sung in unison: “Y si digo que / Que ahora ya lo se” (“And if I say that I now know”). “Testigo” is pure melodic witchcraft in action that strips away wordly façades into something bare and beautiful: “Desde principio a fin, yo siempre di mi verdad” (“from beginning to end, I always gave my truth), the singer vulnerably croons against a whirling guitar and galloping percussions.
Ultimately, Ahomale is a catharsis of divine feminine force helmed by their powerhouse vocalist, laden with the teachings from a bygone era, in tune with the spiritual realm. “Our spirit and energy have passed through multiple generations,” says Prince of Queens. “We might not be open or allowed to explore it because of Western society’s conditions. But the idea is that we are receiving messages from the past, and from our ancestors that each one of us carries.” In nearly 40 minutes of eye-opening thrills and chills, the listener experiences the pedagogy of Ahomale, journeying through her epiphanies and enlightenment. “Ahomale is a warrior, not the sword and shield type, but a woman who is ready to listen to her heart, follow her intuition and connect with her ancestors,” Oliveros avows.