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Afro-Peruvian Electronic Band Novalima Cooks Up a Full-on Dance Party on "El Regalo" (premiere)

Photo: Vito Mirr

The Afro-Peruvian dance music veterans of Novalima blend old and new on single "El Regalo".

Excitement builds quickly on "El Regalo", the new single from Afro-Peruvian electronica collective Novalima. Over subtle loops come the quick beats of metallic percussion; a current of swollen bass boosts the mix from below. As singer Chaska Paucar belts out bar after bar, the song takes its audience from swaying to full-on dance party - a gradual progression from skeletal to sensational that the band has perfected over the last 15 years.

The collective's style is as tight and its sound as infectious as ever as they approach the release of new album Ch'usay - a name that means "Internal Voyage" in the indigenous Peruvian Quechua language family - and "El Regalo" sees the group reaching both into history and toward the future of Afro-Peruvian music. Pan flutes from a distant Andean past mix with fully contemporary sounds, of which up-and-coming psychedelic cumbia artist Paucar serves as a particularly meaningful symbol.

"We had been messing around with the beats for a while," says founding Novalima member Rafael Morales. "When we heard Chaska's band on YouTube, we knew right then that was the missing element we needed, so we contacted her and found out she was a Novalima fan - since she was nine years old."

It may seem a strange coincidence, but it's hard to be surprised that Novalima has such a loyal and discerning fanbase. The group's music takes more than just skillful computer work; in bringing Afro-Peruvian and indigenous Andean and Amazonian sounds to the forefront, Novalima embraces music from cultural groups often sidelined by society, and its members don't take the abundant fruits of their labor in doing so for granted.

"The gift," Morales continues, alluding to the meaning of the track's title, "is the music and the opportunity it gives us to fulfill our lives and allow us to travel the world, meeting and seeing amazing people and places."

In "El Regalo", Novalima returns the favor, once again taking us to the vibrant dance floors they command so well.

Ch'usay comes out on Wonderwheel on September 14.

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