With Afro Caribbean sounds like tipple, bomba barrel drum, dembow & a hazy, humid sense of a transcendent melancholy at work, “La Nueva Ciudad” joins the cannon of unorthodox, reggaetón-based classics of late. The sonic transmutations of established greats like J Balvin, Arca, Gepe, Javiera Mena & newcomers like MULA, Coral Casino, & Tomasa del Real have been expanding our understanding of the infinitely mesmerizing possibilities of the genre. Even Ibiza Pareo expressed interest in flirting with reggaetón during their Ruido Fest showcase in Chicago this summer. Clearly, our collective sonic future still belongs to the iconic, Afro-Caribbean sound.
Balún’s return feels accomplished, academic and ancestral. The chorus of “La Nueva Ciudad” invokes collective rapture (the spiritual power of reggaetón at work here) while Angélica Negron's vocals communicate intimacy & distance, discussing the circular nature of time, planets, & the need to create a city without mirrors. The prolific percussionist/producer Lawson White (Shakira, Wilco, Jamie xx) has been working behind the scenes with Balún, whose current lineup boasts PhD ethnomusicologist and Puerto Rican folk music expert Noraliz Ruiz (playing cuatro and on “La Nueva Ciudad”), Raul Reymundi, along with veteran players Angélica Negron & José Olivares. It would seem as though Balún have become curators of globopop. “La Nueva Ciudad” is the lead single from the forthcoming Prisma Tropical LP which is due in 2017. Listen to it below and its b-side, “Esta En Tus Manos,” a cover of the pioneer of indietronica reggaetón herself, Javiera Mena.