Lido Pimienta’s Miss Colombia is a luminous anthem to resilience | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Lido Pimienta’s Miss Colombia is a luminous anthem to resilience 

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click to enlarge Lido Pimienta

Lido Pimienta

Daniella Murillo

Contemporary music informed by cultural traditions that have withstood the test of centuries uplifts my spirits like nothing else; in these times, it seems to hold a magic that can help us all withstand adversity. Lido Pimienta’s new third album, Miss Colombia, is the highly anticipated follow-up to her Polaris Prize–winning La Papessa. The Barranquilla-born, Toronto-based Afro-Indigenous multimedia artist recorded the album in her home studio as well as in San Basilio de Palenque, a Colombian village founded in the 17th century by escaped enslaved persons. On Miss Colombia Pimienta further evolves the hybrid electronic and Afro-Indigenous sound she established on La Papessa and 2010’s Color, but she takes a more organic and sensual approach to electronics, surrounding her vocals with lush, rounded effects and beats. Her soaring vocals, which are front and center here, are grounded in the ecstatic chanting of Afro-Colombian spiritual music as well as references to Caribbean Colombia’s musical traditions, including horn-rich cumbia subgenre porro and the percussion-centered bullerengue—a precursor to cumbia born in San Basilio de Palenque and traditionally danced only by women. To perform her compositions, Pimienta has enlisted Cuban-Colombian jazz band Okan, members of San Basilio de Palenque’s famed Sexteto Tabala, female singers from Cantaoras Grupo Raíces de Palenque, the Road to Avonlea Choir, and front woman Li Saumet of punk cumbia act Bomba Estereo. “Eso que Tú Haces” (“That Thing You Do”) features porro-infused beats that swell majestically amid swirling, lush, orchestral horns. “Pelo Cucu” is a slow, mournful bullerengue that celebrates the African texture of the singer’s hair and defends it against unwanted touching. Pimienta makes music that offers the promise of overcoming struggle. The lyrics to “Resisto y Ya” make me feel especially hopeful: the lines “Nunca se acaba la luz de lo que vuelve . . . en la luz, resisto, y ya” translate to “The light of what returns never ends . . . in the light, I resist, and that's it.” I’ve had that track on repeat, so I can savor how its chants and percussion seamlessly veer into an electro-bullerengue pop bop blessed with a sunny, supremely danceable groove.   v

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