Uncut (magazine) (p.84) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "From the late 1940s and '50s he unearths the wheezy accordions, honking saxes and wonky hand drums of Anibal Velasquez and Conjunto Miramar..."
Liner Note Author: William Holland.
Miles Cleret's Soundway Records has done more than any other label in the 21st century to uncover the many musical mysteries of Colombia. In 2008, the label issued its first compilation, Colombia! The Golden Age of Discos Fuentes: The Powerhouse of Colombian Music. In the years that followed they released a compilation of the Afro-influenced champeta Palenque Palenque; Aqui los Bravos!, a best-of collection dedicated to the work of Michi Sarmiento and y Su Bravos; and another, detailing more of the history of Discos Fuentes and especially the legacy of the Fuentes family's youngest son, called Cartagena! Curro Fuentes & the Big Band Cumbia and Descarga Sound of Colombia 1962-1972. This double-disc, 55-track monster was compiled by Will "Quantic" Holland and Cleret (Quantic actually moved to Colombia, learned to play accordion, and started the band Quantic y Su Combo Bárbaro in order to more fully understand the the multifaceted cumbia, birthed in the Magdalena River in the southeastern part of the Andes. The journey begins there, and moves north through cities along the river to the more urban areas surrounding the place it empties: the Caribbean Sea. These tracks cover 31 years in the era when the vinyl record dominated the music industry. The tracks come from 78s and 45s, and include rare LP tracks by some of the music's legends such as Anibal Velasquez, Tono Fernandez, Albert Pacheco, Gilardo Montoya, and Grupo Costa Brava, but also feature many recordings by obscure and even unknown artists. The evolution of cumbia is fascinating and compelling as it moves from its percussion, accordion, and chanted call-and-response vocal origins to include horns, beautifully harmonized vocals, and electric bass as it moves north. Stylistically, given its movement up a body of water, the music's history eventually reveals the inclusion of descarga, guaguanco, and even montuno in its travels, becoming first a Latin and then a true world music. The Original Sound of Cumbia isn't merely a historic series of recordings, but reveals that cumbia, from its poor, rural, and indigenous roots, has become -- long after these recordings faded from view -- a vital part of Colombian, Latin, and European culture at large. The music found in this collection sounds as radical and vital in the 21st century as it did during the period documented here. ~ Thom Jurek