Devocion (Works 2005-2011)
For the first time officially available outside of Colombia, Bogota's Meridian Brothers present on the Staubgold label a delightfully surreal and playful compilation of their works from 2005 to 2011. Devoción (Works 2005-2011) features the best moments of three albums which previously have only been released on the local Colombian La Distritofónica label. Traditional instruments, electronics, and distorted vocals are dragged through an array of influences to create a world that is as original as it is unclassifiable. Straddling the line between new and old, the Meridian Brothers' mischievous blend of Latin rhythms and psychedelic grooves is the creation of Eblis Álvarez, one of the key figures of the experimental music scene in Bogota. As with all of the Meridian Brothers' releases, every instrument on Devoción (Works 2005-2011) was played and recorded by Eblis himself. A true avant-garde guitar player and composer, he also plays in Mario Galeano's band Frente Cumbiero and was one of the 42 musicians involved in the recording of Ondatrópica. A real musical maverick, labeled a genius by his contemporaries in Colombia, Eblis Álvarez and his Meridian Brothers finally get the full, worldwide attention they deserve. The Meridian Brothers started back in 1998 with Eblis Álvarez experimenting with alternative ways of playing instruments and electronic media. Heavily influenced by Latin rock (Argentinean in particular) these early recordings were distributed by cassette on the underground music market in Bogota. It was in 1999, after joining Mario Galeano's Ensamble Polifónico Vallenato that Eblis first became interested in the tropical music of Colombia and began working these new influences in to the Meridian Brothers. Another key period in his development was his time spent in Denmark at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and the DIEM (Danish Institute of Electronic Music). It was during this stage that Eblis started using more sophisticated and intricate techniques in both electronics and signal processing. Eblis returned to Bogota in 2008, joining a burgeoning music scene with cumbia, salsa and currulao all being explored by a new generation of Colombian musicians. 2009's Meridian Brothers VI goes deep into tropical sounds of the '60s and '70s in Colombia and integrates other influences such as highlife, Ethiopian music, surf and Peruvian and Colombian cumbia. It was around this stage that Meridian Brothers made their first appearances as a live band with Damien Ponce (percussion), Maria Valencia (clarinet, saxophone and synthesizers), Alejandro Forero (keyboards), Cesar Quevedo (bass) and Eblis Alvarez (vocals, guitar and electronics). In 2011, Meridian Brothers VII was released. The sound of this album returns to Latin American rock influences as well as champeta experiments, jazz, cumbia, and tropical. Distorted sounds, electronic changes in voice, obscure surf guitar and randomly-changed sampled percussion all collide head-on. Two tracks from this record were released on 7" by New York label Names You Can Trust in 2012. Recorded in 2012 and released by Soundway Records in London, Desesperanza is dedicated exclusively to salsa and tropical music, twisting it through a dark and theatrical soundscape without abandoning traditional aesthetics.