Cumbia Digital, with a heavy bass and perspiration-inducing rhythms: this formation from the north of Colombia on the Caribbean coast move between distant planets. Their songs are inspired by the traditional cumbia of popular heroes like Pedro “Ramayá” Beltrán as well as by the picós, Colombia’s sound systems. They also count space funk à la Parliament or the British free-rave collective Spiral Tribe among their influences. “Verbenautica” is what they call their fascinating combination of afro-Caribbean rhythms like cumbia, champeta, and bullerengue with raps and turn-tablism, hip-hop and electronic beats—a combination of “verbena“, the Colombian term for block party, and “nautica,” referring to the nautical travel between the continents and musical influences involved. They bring this mix to a boil when they play live.
Is it mambo or garage punk? Estrellas de Carla interpret Afro-Caribbean classics by Beny Moré, Eddie Palmieri, Celia Cruz, or La Lupe freely, with a puristic, cheerful use of electric guitars. But as raw as the quartet’s miniature mambo might seem, the show put on by the costume-loving singer Carla Riveros Eißmann is all the more fascinating. Hamburg, with its port to the world and rich tradition of guitar music, is the proper home for this quartet’s love of the syncopated mambo rhythms that trigger a dance mania as well as for their self-conception as punk. In their everyday life, the band members make their living working at music labels, for bars, or as journalists, and consequentially call themselves the “mambo kings of the self-optimizing precariat.”