Boogát El Gato y Los Rumberos
Published Feb 26, 2020Boogat's output is rooted in a hip-hop head's desire to comment on right now, but sprouts from a compulsion to weave the classic sounds of his ancestral Mexico into urgent releases. On his latest EP, El Gato y Los Rumberos (The Cat & The Rumble), there's intentionality behind a DIY approach to make an creatively unfettered (hence, crowdfunded) document of traditional Latin big band music.
The recordings are crisp, with a warm character to the bass, horns that spring to life and percussion with great personality. Even the adjectives that best describe it evoke human qualities, as it should be, as there will never be anything detached or impersonal about a genre that is fundamentally street music.
On "El Gato Rumbero" is where we find Boogát, spitting over a chorus of "no" as the joyous music locks in beneath him, a kinetic counterpoint to the debate that rages in his Spanish lyrics. There is plenty of clapping and stomping left in the mix of these songs, but it is so perfectly evocative, it's as if you can hear slapping of tables, rattling of chairs, and clinking of glassware in your mind's ear as Boogát brings a dancehall to life.
The guitar is used often throughout these tracks as a rhythmic device, tasteful and necessary, as is the piano. Pianist Andy Rubal Bello gets loose on "Piel de Cocodrilo" (Crocodile Skin), a sizzling right hand heater than serves as a mid-record reminder that cha-cha and rumba are nothing if not dance music.
Lyrically swinging for the fences in an effort to deal with the changing needs and emotional ephemera of modern times — this album proudly wears the retro-futurist mantle. This is music for today, but will have you feeling cobbled cafes and pueblo backdrops as the moment melts away and a world of past and future is laid out for us.
In five bursts of pure life, Boogát manages to navigate a range of both sonic and emotional textures before setting us down with the closer "¡Al Ratito, Catrina!" featuring a haunting vocal from Natalia Telentso. The day of the dead happens but once a year, but this music reminds us with gorgeous passion that every beat is for the living. (Independent)