British musician and producer Will Holland now calls Columbia his home, and he shows his love for the country and cumbia music with his band Los Miticos Del Ritmo. The seven-piece group fires through a brisk half-hour of instrumental cumbias that feel both effortless and precise. Everything was recorded analog, and the results feel stripped down and intimate, like you’ve stumbled onto the dancefloor of a big family party in Cali.
“Willy’s Marengue” is a speedy, energetic affair, pushing the danceable thump of earlier track “La Libanesa” into a new, furious pace. The whole record will get the hips shaking, which was Holland’s intent, and even though he includes some covers here, it’s the original stuff that works the best. With the exception of “Fabiola”—a cumbia originally recorded by Gildardo Montoya—the other covers don’t quite work. Takes on Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” and Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop (‘Til You Get Enough)” are too on the nose and end up feeling more plugged in than interpreted. They still fit the carefree vibe of this record, though, one that is modern in its energy but still manages to feel timeless, sliding right into the middle of cumbia tradition, rather than trying to rework it.