Novalima: Karimba

Karimba sends a mixed message as a result -- coming off a bit uneven in those places where it wants to do too much.



Label: ESL Music
US Release Date: 2012-01-31
UK Release Date: 2012-01-31
Label Website
Artist Website

Unlike a number of artists on the Eighteenth Street Lounge roster, Novalima is not a band made up of musicians from various backgrounds melting their global sound backgrounds into one crucible and pulling out a transnational record (not that there is anything wrong with that). The four members of this band are all natives of Lima, Peru who, after ending up in various cities around the world, decided to come together and create music from their home. Like their ESL siblings, Novalima combines traditional instrumentation, rhythms, and vocals with modern electronics and rich synths and some guest contributors. This is reinforced on the album’s cover where carvings of deities, with candles alighted as blessings, sit on top of a radio receiver.

Over the course of three prior albums, Novalima, Afro and Coba Coba (in 2003, 2005 and 2008 respectively) the band has helped to revitalize the Afro-Peruvian genre, which lay dormant since at least the '70s. And they have mixed it up with dashes of reggae, salsa and dub. Now, with their fourth album, Karimba, Novalima entice listeners with delicious tropical flavors that will have you kick off your shoes, whether it is to lay back and absorb some sun or to feel the floor move under your feet. Its clear that, despite an overall summery vibe, Karimba won’t allow you to relax the whole time. Unlike Coba Coba that PopMatters described as “a jam session”, this album gets weighed down by electronics. Karimba sends a mixed message as a result -- coming off a bit uneven in those places where it wants to do too much.

Karimba opens with "Festejo" whose percussive drive and call and response vocal will stir up a fire. But the track ends with some overzealous electronic pulses layered on top of it diluting the natural rhythm that had evolved. The same sort of thing occurs in the "Revolucion" a percussive and brassy song. Eventually the tune skitters into an area with more electronics that unnecessarily enter the mix. The track "Malivio Son" has got a dub feel that gives a pause for the audience in the middle of the album, before things liven up again, but it too seems to not carry the weight it should.

On the other hand, there are several tracks that are less embellished and thus more enjoyable. The fervent "Mamaye" is much more in line with a rich cultural history. It has got a wealth of sound, punctuated by a bevy of horns that appear throughout the album. "Diablo" is amongst the best of the tracks with its seductive rhythm and easy riding groove. The horns here taunt at something demonic while the vocalist throws in some laughter at him. The band knows they can play with fire without getting burned. "Macaco (Novalima Remix)" is the upbeat party song most likely to make its way onto summer mixes or alongside Thievery Corporation songs. It will get your head nodding along to its affirmative rhythm.

All in all, the exotic pleasures of Karimba will make fans in those interested in world music. But Novalima have made offerings to many foreign deities, when they could have stuck to their roots and made a more cohesive work.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.