Novalima, Issa Bagayogo | Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park | International | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Thu., July 23, 6:30 p.m. 2009
When Peru’s NOVALIMA formed in 2001, the group’s four founding members were scattered around the globe—London, Hong Kong, Barcelona—and shared their ideas via e-mail, cobbling together club-music versions of hypnotic, propulsive Afro-Peruvian songs. Since then they’ve returned to Lima and put together a proper band—Novalima’s live lineup is nine strong—that gives the music’s electronic heart a new kind of vitality. The traditional sound the group hybridizes will be familiar to anyone who’s heard Susana Baca and Eva Ayllon; Novalima jacks it up not only with throbbing dance beats but also with elements of reggae, Cuban son, funk, and hip-hop. The band’s third and best album, Coba Coba (Cum­bancho), alternates between original tunes and reimagined folkloric material, balancing guitar, bass, programmed rhythms, and keyboards against thumping cajon, a froth of auxiliary percussion—congas, bongos, timbales, cajita—and the soulful, throaty singing of Milagros Guerrero and Juan Medrano “Cotito.”

Electronic beats provide a backbone for the music of Malian singer and kamele n’goni player ISSA BAGAYOGO as well. His attempts to break into Bamako’s music scene in the early 90s earned him little but a drug habit and a job as a bus driver, but when he returned a few years later he hooked up with Yves Wernert, a French producer who talked him into wedding the circular riffs and gruff, bluesy incantations of his Mande songs to electronic beats and textures—a decision that earned him the nickname “Techno Issa” and eventually made him an international star. I especially like his early recordings, with their stark divide between raw, unadorned acoustic instruments and unapologetically artificial electronics; his most recent, Mali Koura (Six Degrees), softens this contrast by making everything pretty slick. He’s still a fine singer and instrumentalist, though, and no matter what he does in the studio, his infectious energy comes through just fine onstage.

Novalima headline and Bagayogo opens. Members of Novalima also DJ an aftershow at Sonotheque. —Peter Margasak

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