“On their joyful, audacious, and constantly shapeshifting debut,
Contento deliver a document of salsa hybridity, honouring
centuries of migration and cultural dialogues while embracing
modern techniques that inform their musical DNA.”
Richard Villegas, Bandcamp “Album of the Day”
“Blending salsa with electronic elements, Afrobeat and lo-fi vocals,
the Colombian duo bring infectious positivity to a classic genre.”
Ammar Kalia, The Guardian “Global Album of the Month”
Those two über-hip expatriate Colombian ‘salsapunks’ are back. Contento’s first album, Lo Bueno Está Aquí, was an artistic and critical success: chosen, for example, by the UK’s discerning national newspaper, The Guardian, as their global album of the month in November last year. Their follow-up, En Lancha Pal Futuro,
builds seamlessly on its predecessor. Yet it could not have been recorded in more different, and difficult, circumstances.
The duo’s debut was laid down between 2016 and 2019, a period when the two European-based Colombians, who met at an Eddie Palmieri concert in Berlin, were able to take some serious time off from their diverse individual projects to explore a new vision for salsa. Paulo, a member of Acid Coco, Jaguar and El Dragón Criollo;
and Sano, a DJ and producer known for his minimalist Latin house releases for the Cómeme label, crystallised on their debut what Paulo describes as “a new salsa sound that may also make [listeners] want to discover some of the older sounds, too.” That sound is a kind of ‘retro-smart’ combination of Nuyorican boogaloo
from the ‘60s and cumbia from the golden age of Discos Fuentes. Contento’s contemporary electronic twist suggests, if you like, a kind of post-modern variation on Dave ‘Baby’ Cortez’s “Happy Hook With an Organ”.
But then along came COVID. Sano left Barcelona to return to his native Colombia. With one half of the Contento team holed up in the mountains outside Medellín, communications became increasingly challenging. “Send me something,” Paulo urged his colleague, “Do me something on the piano.” Sano obliged, sending over a number of piano tracks which Paulo worked on during an intense fortnight in his Geneva studio, adding lyrics and further instrumentation. From that period came “Al Lao Del Rio”, a boogaloo with an irresistible
keyboard riff, an upfront electronic bongo beat and urgent vocals; “Donde Está Mi Gente”, a slower number with sleepy vocals and squelchy synth; the Latin garage rock tinge of “Guajira Espacial”; and the final, longest track, “Voy Contento”, which, maybe more than any other track on the new album, revisits the signature sound
of their debut. Is that jingle-jangle Byrds-like guitar sound really a guitar or an electronic keyboard? Is that a real female chorus or some production trickery?
To the untrained ear, the other six tracks on the album are pure Contento. But, in truth, it wasn’t that simple.
Lack of a decent studio or reliable internet effectively nulled Sano’s involvement, and so Paulo looked at unfinished material they had begun years prior. Heartened by what they already had in the bag, Paulo finished on his own what they had previously sketched together. “I feel him very close,” Paulo reveals. “I know what
he likes and everything.” He describes how he took the title track, for example, and “broke it down, put it back together, gave it structure. I changed a bit... the melody of the voice; I added bass, added what I had to add. I finished producing it and I had another song.” Listening to it, you can hear how he works around the
organ riff and deep timbales sound, adding the typically repetitive vocals and all the other layers to build it into something hypnotic and irresistible. Of the other five, “Sigo Llorando” suggests it was recorded in some kind of space station, with the ringing guitar sound and electronic percussion bombarding the listener with a shower of aural asteroids. “Pobre Humanidad” is almost but not quite the album’s only instrumental. And “Brillo y Figura Hasta La Sepultra” is the closest thing to the kind of Nuyorican salsa that first brought the pair together.
Alone in the studio he might have been in the end, but Paulo artfully invokes the presence of his absent partner to summon up the spirit of Contento and the spirit of Colombia. Given such extraordinary circumstances, En Lancha Pal Futuro is a remarkable follow-up. Fans and devotees can expect another sure-fire album of the
released November 26, 2021
Ilustraciones Mateo Corral
Diseño Gráfico Daria Meckhat
Corte en The carvery Studio
Mastering por Lad Agabekov @ Caduceus Studios
Press Note Russ slater
Paulo and Sano aka CONTENTO had so many friends in common that it was like they knew each other for many years before they
actually met. In 2011 they finally had the pleasure of seeing their faces for the first time. This happens in Berlin at a concert by the master Eddie Palmieri at the House of World Cultures and it set a precedent....more