Infusions: Lagartijeando explores the electronic blends of Bolivian altiplano folklore

Although Argentinian-born, Matias Zundel has made it his business to immerse himself in the folkloric musical traditions of neighbouring Peru and Bolivia. As Lagartijeando he combines this schooling with electronic arrangement to sensitively recontextualise traditional cultures, finding a home on labels like ZZK and Wonderwheel. Here. he expands on his own approach to production by exploring the folkloric music of Central South America’s high tableland and how it’s been reinterpreted in electronic music.

Lagartijeando plays Earthly Measures in London (20th July) with Tim Garcia. 


Can you tell us a bit about your Infusions theme?

This selection tries to reflect how the folkloric music of the Bolivian altiplano has been reimagined through modern Latin American electronic music. These special songs I liked because they preserve elements and characteristic of the original musical genres.

What does this music mean to you and why is it significant to you as a DJ, producer and music lover?

Something that I like is that they have respected that traditional part of this music and the modern elements did not contaminate or deform the original feeling. I feel that they were enhanced and opened new sonic dimensions and rhythms. Something I try to do with my music.

Tell us an interesting fact about the music of Bolivia you think we won’t know.

The Bolivian music is a totally fascinating and complex world, which mixes the pre-Hispanic with the European. I’ve already traveled six times over there and I still find new music, new rhythms and new instruments. The cultural effervescence of that region is impressive and I also notice those intercultural clashes; modernity and antiquity. Something that can make reference to what is happening between electronics and folklore.

Anything on the horizon you’re excited about in 2018?

This summer I travelled again to Bolivia to have new inspiration, so I think more music that takes this influence its coming.

Mala – ‘Koto’

This song is a crazy mix of tarka music. (the tarkas are a pre-Hispanic instrument that does not have a tonal tuning that’s why its sound is so strident.) It is usually played fast. In this track, Mala mixes tarka melodies with a very fast electronic rhythm generating an effect similar to its original style but in electro version.

King Koya – ‘E Chango’

In this track King Koya was inspired by the Huayno rhythm. You can appreciate the percussion is very characteristic of the style. The Huayno is like the Bolivian cumbia, it has many derivatives and its style evolved during many years. It is also very popular in Peru, Argentina and Ecuador. The rhythm is pre-Hispanic but with the invention of the charango it was associated with this instrument generating other similar styles such as the jiyawua, cumbia chicha and carnavalito.

William Centellas vs. Chancha Via Circuito – ‘Los Pastores’ (Dub Version)

Los Pastores is a classic theme of the great charango maestro William Centellas. He won the prize for the best charango player at the Aiquiles festival in Cochabamba, along with Ernesto Cavour, Donato Espinoza and others were the promoters of the golden generation of the charango, which composed the classical repertoire that was studied in all the academies of Andean music.

Nicola Cruz – El Baile de Nahual

Another song where we see representing a Huayno in a more modern format, using the classical way of playing the guitar in arpeggios. Some arrangements of zampoñas (above) or sikus (pre-Hispanic instruments) is executed by two instrumentalists. In this recording its execution is with typical effects of dub music and the rhythm of the percussions has electronic editions that distort a bit the original rhythm.

Urubamba – ‘Buena Nueva’ (Barda Edit)

Urubamba is a classic sikuriada or band of sikuris, played between “anger” (6 reeds) and they answer the “arka” (7 reeds added to the drums). Within the sikuris we have many similar derivations that change their name according to their size. For example we have the toyos, which are similar to the sikuri but they measure 1m in length.

Luzmila Carpio – Tarpuricusum (Capitan Planet Remix)

Luzmila Carpio is a rural singer from Norte Potosi, a region characterised by the calampeo and the charangueada. Being a region with a pre-Hispanic social organisation (Ayllus, Andean communitarianism) there is little influence of Western culture, so their music has rarely heard melodic turns inspired by nature. She was a symbol of cultural resistance, and was one of the first singers to record Quechua in its original language, strongly resisted at the time.

Kike Pinto – ‘Pachamama Pachakamaq’ (El Búho Edit)

This song of Kike Pinto is a kind of huayno reduced in slow version, which has the classic twists harmonic style. It is instrumented with charango, quena pesuñas and voices, but it has that characteristic of the Peruvian huayno that has its differences with the Bolivian huayno. It is important to clarify that before dividing Peru and Bolivia, the area of Lake Titicaca was the area where the Aymara communities lived. That’s why we consider it part of the same cultural movement.

Rodrigro Gallardo – ‘Grito Aymara’

Grito Aymara is a musical piece that is played by tarkas (or similar flutes, remember that there are dozens of similar flutes but with small differences) and arpeggiated guitars in the form of huayno. In the 70s, in Chile, Argentina, Peru and Bolivia, an era of mixing and experimentation of Andean styles began, where different folkloric styles of this music crossed in different ways. Inti illimani is an example group.

Tremor – ‘Huella’ (Chancha Via Circuito Remix)

Huella is a baguala that is sung with a very popular box percussion in the north of Argentina. This solitary song usually tells the story or feelings that the singer wants to convey to the mountains beyond in the Andes. It is very popular in the carnivals of northern Argentina and I find great similarity to the melodies of northern Potosi. Jujuy (Argentina) and Potosi (Bolivia) are bordering provinces part of the same region of Quechua ethnic groups.

Gustavo Santaolalla – ‘De Ushuaia a la Quiaca’

This song is part of the album Ronroco. Ronroco is an instrument invented by the group Kjarkas, which is a large charango with a more serious tone. This disc has pieces executed by very few instruments that reflect that loneliness of the great mountains of the Andes. A great piece of the new Argentine folklore.

Lagartijeando plays Earthly Measures in London (20th July) with Tim Garcia. 

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