With enough practice, anyone can be technically good. With enough technology, anyone can sound technically good. Time and money can’t create interesting ideas, though. That is why the world needs people like Colombia’s Eblis Álvarez. He is the brains behind Meridian Brothers, a psychedelic digital cumbia entity like nothing else.
Produced, mixed, mastered, and spit-shined by Álvarez himself, El Grupo Renacimiento imagines Meridian Brothers working with a forgotten B-class salsa dura band that hit it big in the 1970s, fell into vice, recovered thanks to God and music, but still know how to party and protest with the best of them. Like what Altın Gün brings to Turkish psychedelic rock, the Meridian Brothers’ sound is at once traditional and futuristic.
Released in the summer of 2022, the 11th Meridian Brothers album was the first to come out on Ansonia Records since the legendary independent Latin label’s financially-imposed hiatus in 1990. Founded by Decca Records A&R rep Rafael “Ralph” Pérez in 1949, Ansonia was massively influential in delivering the riches of New York’s immigrant artists to the world and helping to popularize merengue and descarga in North America. Particularly active during Ralph’s life and staying in the family after his death in 1969, Ansonia has only recently begun excavating its monolithic and historically important catalogue for digital preservation. They pushed boundaries in their day, too, so Meridian Brothers were a perfect choice to kick off their new era as they honor the old masters.
First conceptualized as Álvarez’s creative island in 1998, Meridian Brothers eventually performed live and currently roll with Maria Valencia on percussion, César Quevedo on bass, Alejandro Forero on keys, Mauricio Ramírez on drums, and bandleader Eblis singing and shredding guitar. Have a gander at them crushing “La Policia” live at Bogotá’s Matik Matik, a funky little venue that serves homemade flavored rums and experimental music. Directed by Mateo Rudas, the band looks sharp in their matching retro outfits and sounds even sharper as they call out police brutality in song.
Ralph Pérez didn’t produce concerts back in the day, but Álvarez and his friends occasionally bring their volcanic heat on the road. Check below to see if they’re coming to a city near you. Expect to build up a sweat if you are lucky enough to see them perform.
Aug. 16 – Austin, TX – Antone’s
Aug. 17 – New Haven, CT – Café Nine
Aug. 18 – Woodstock, NY – The Colony
Aug. 19 – Amherst, MA – The Drake
Aug. 20 – Ridgewood, NY – TV Eye
Sept. 4 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
Sept. 8 – Lucerne, Switzerland – Industriestrasse
Sept. 10 – Saintes, France – Coconut Festival
Sept. 11 – Ostend, Belgium – Leuffingeleuren Festival
Sept. 13 – Paris, France – La Dynamo
Sept. 14 – Metz, France – Trinitaires
Sept. 15 – Tours, France – Temps machine
Sept. 16 – St. Macaire, France – Staccato
Sept. 20 – Lyon, France – Periscope
Sept. 24 – La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland – Bikini Test