Toto la Momposina y Sus Tambours’ Tambolero

12th April 2016

Title: Tambolero

Label: Real World

Well, and here was me thinking that it was just a name but, it appears that’s not so.

Totó La Momposina is more than a name. It’s a place, a people, and way a life.

The centre of this venture is Totó, a single woman while her group are members of her family. This is one close knit venture. They come from Talaigua, a village on the island of Mompos in the northern Colombian river of Magdalena. In the menatime, the music that she and they produce is traditional. In fact, it comes direct from their ancestors.

This album was originally released in 1993 as  La Candela Viva and is regarded by many as one of Colombia’s most important albums. It has now been remixed and mastered, with some additional instrumentation and vocals by Totó’s granddaughters and additional tracks.

So, a track like Dos de Febrero sees Totó singing both with passion and a particular articulation: she seems dertermined to express her message and doesn’t want anyone to misinterpret it at all. Backing her are further harmonic voices plus an insistent percussion that begins, after a while, to dig in right under your skin and further down. After a while, you begin to not even hear it. It just serves as a platform for Totó’s voice. A strong, insistent voice.

La Sombra Negra is an interesting song. Arguably one of the highlights on the album. It was brought over to Colombia by black Cubans and shows its origins in the guitar and tiple playing and rhythms. It offers a far more relaxed take on life that contrasts with the percussive and insistent demands of some of the other tracks.

Here, there is a tired, easy lope to the track that does pick up speed for one last lunge at life further into the track but those  resonant guitar strings are always there, rich in flavour, soft and easy on the ear.

A commanding album that talks a tale of the ages.