Luzmila Carpio + ZZK

By: Marcelo Báez

ZZK, the most prominent and consistent purveyors of tropical bass and digital cumbia, have a new baby resting in their crib: an EP featuring various remixes of Bolivian folk singer Luzmila Carpio. The whole roster of ZZK electro-root-and-cumbia wizards—Tremor, El Búho, King Coya, El Remolón, Chancha Vía Circuito, Nicola Cruz—are all present in these seven tracks, and even Brooklyn’s Captain Planet gets a remix in.

According to legend, Luzmila was born in a small village near the Andes Mountains and, as a way to protest the predominance of western culture in Bolivia, she purposely chose to sing in Quechua over Spanish. As far as material goes, Carpio is no lightweight; she’s been recording music since 1969 and has over 15 records under her belt.

But how does her Luzmila’s breezy hippie trip (“I use the language and music of my people, that of the Indian land, of our mountains, of our lakes, of the air we breathe”), which is great and stands strong all on its own, blend with the polished style of modern music producers? Can Luzmila’s incredible vocal range, unconventional melodies, instrumentation and arrangements be accommodated?

Well, if anyone should take a gander at it—especially for this kind of project—it should definitely be the ZZK crew. Mostly, because some of the label’s artists have been toying with vintage Latin sounds for a while. That kind of experience has to be part of what makes Luzmila Carpio Meets ZZK sound great. This is evidenced by the fact that the EP comes off as a legit collaboration instead of a remix project—even if the tracks are remixes.

It’s surprising how well synths bleeps and filter sweeps mesh with Andean instruments and Luzmila’s vocals. “Tarpuricusum Sarata,” remixed by Captain Planet, and “Warmikuna yupay-chasqapuni kasunchik,” by Tremor, are especially strong, but even El Remolón’s minimal take on “Amaotayku Avelino Sinani” is effective. My bitter, cynical self is telling me not to, but I’m willing to say this EP sounds *closes eyes, pauses* organic *heads to the nearest McDonald’s in shame*.

Apparently this EP is sort of a preview for an upcoming full-length release by Carpio. It seems said release will be a normal, non-remixed record—but now, after listening to Luzmila Carpio Meets ZZK, I’d rather get all my Luzmila in remix form, thankyouverymuch.

LOGISTICS: Luzmila Carpio Meets ZZK, stream it here

Marcelo Baéz is a writer, DJ, and musician based in NYC. When he's not producing "Rico Suave" parties, he releases music under P3CULIAR.