Features July 5, 2012
4 Track: The Meridian Brothers

In this new series, we are trying to break down part of the barrier between listener and artist by asking some of our favorite musicians to pick 4 tracks from their catalogue and explain the thinking behind them.

For those who haven't heard previously heard them, Colombia's Meridian Brothers are easily among the most interesting groups in South America. Mixing elements of rock, cumbia, salsa, and a variety of folkloric musics and then pouring the result through the filter of their own peculiar sensibility, the band has created some of the most psychedelic (and genuinely worrisome) music of the past decade. This week, we leave 4 Track in the able hands of Eblis Javier Alvarez Vargas, the group's guitarist.

1- Canción De Invierno (2005)
[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/51810858" iframe="true" /]

This song represents the spirit of the debut album of the Meridian Brothers and the general intention of the project. A search for something unknown or not common, maybe without a clear genre… I tried to get a very folk feeling, inspired by the vallenato music from Colombia, but more dark and maybe sarcastic. This album was done in Denmark, very very far away from Colombia, my home country, while sudying classical composition... It evokes this lack of context of the tropical music in the enviroment of those days.

2- La Escopeta del Hombre Plebeyo (2008-9)
[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/51809415" iframe="true" /]
From the album "Meridian Brothers VI" done in Colombia. I was very influenced by the mood of the tropical music surrounding my enviroment after 6 years living abroad, but in a way, distorted, twisted, cartooned.

3- El Jazz del Chupasangres (2011)
[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/51808985" iframe="true" /]
This is a funny anecdote- When we were invited to the "Jazz al Parque" festival in Bogota, the people seemed angry and we got a lot of negative comments on the social networks because people said that we were not "pure" jazz music (as if "pure" jazz music exists), so we did not deserve to be invited to the festival.

I did this song in a bit of a reaction- It is about a very terrorific jazzy vampire who scares everyone, singing very madly, but at the same time naive. I tried to get a very old jazz sound…simulating almost a record from the 40s and 50s, like the bebop era of jazz.

4- Salsa del Zombie (2012)
[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/51808676" iframe="true" /]
In this album I got into salsa, trying to experiment with this genre and this feeling. Salsa is quite popular in Colombia, it gets very into the Bogotan/Colombian people, so I aimed to make a record devoted only to salsa and pure tropical music. This tune is almost a cliche one, using all the formulas in the genre- I just added a downwards melody/riff to simulate and personify this sad rotten zombie described in the lyrics (zombie chased by happy vultures) and a low-pitched voice… taken from the "cumbia rebajada" style. I had a lot of fun playing this guitar solo!

If you are interested in listening to more of the Meridian Brothers, be sure to check out their website

Afropop Continue to Afropop.org