Through her folkloric mystique, otherworldly psychedelia, and a dash of enigmatic punk, Ahomale by Combo Chimbita catapults the sacred knowledge of our forebears into the future. Their second studio album and Anti- Records debut sees the visionary quartet drawing from ancestral mythologies and musical enlightenment to unearth the awareness of Ahomale, the album’s cosmic muse. Comprised of Carolina Oliveros’ mesmeric contralto, illuminating storytelling and fierce guacharaca rhythms, Prince of Queens’ hypnotic synth stabs and grooving bass lines, Niño Lento’s imaginative guitar licks, and Dilemastronauta’s powerful drumming, the lure and lore of Combo Chimbita comes into existence.
The legend begins with their first EP, 2016’s El Corredor del Jaguar, and followed up with the occult psychedelia of Abya Yala. In 2019’s Ahomale, the New York-by-way-of-Colombia troupe fuse the perennial rhythms of the Afro-Latinx diaspora with a modern-day consciousness, while tracing the prophetic traditions of our ancestry. “The more we’ve played music together, the more we began to discover things within ourselves that we were previously unaware of, almost like an energy. And that’s being communicated through our music,” explains Prince of Queens in the making of Ahomale.
Inspired by a Yoruba term, Ahomale, meaning adorer of ancestors, Oliveros reveals her quest to connect with ancestral cosmology, which the Combo pays homage to. “Ahomale resurges from the visions that we’ve been having via our music and life, and the lyrics reflect a manifestation passed on through our ancestors and the gods,” she explains. “I wanted the album to convey the search for spiritual awareness, which ultimately serves as a revelation.” In a similar spirit, Niño Lento conveys: “The protagonist of this album whose name is Ahomale possesses the ability to communicate ancestral wisdom through the music.”
With the help of producer Daniel Schlett (The War on Drugs, Modest Mouse), the group’s rootsy experimental alchemy and metal strangeness take centerfold. Oliveros howls, yowls and chirps with gut-wrenching emotion, like on the languid mirage of “El Camino,” or plaintive frenzy of the title track. Whether rock raw and soulful or bewitching like a shaman in a spiritual ceremony, her voice is always a multifaceted wonder. “Brillo Más Que El Oro (La Bala Apuntándome)” boasts alluring vintage synths that seem to time travel through the lush tropics of yore; then, the mood intensifies when its bridge brilliantly crosses into a spellbinding chant sung in unison: “Y si digo que / Que ahora ya lo se” (“And if I say that I now know”). “Testigo” is pure melodic witchcraft in action that strips away wordly façades into something bare and beautiful: “Desde principio a fin, yo siempre di mi verdad” (“from beginning to end, I always gave my truth), the singer vulnerably croons against a whirling guitar and galloping percussions.
Ultimately, Ahomale is a catharsis of divine feminine force helmed by their powerhouse vocalist, laden with the teachings from a bygone era, in tune with the spiritual realm. “Our spirit and energy have passed through multiple generations,” says Prince of Queens. “We might not be open or allowed to explore it because of Western society’s conditions. But the idea is that we are receiving messages from the past, and from our ancestors that each one of us carry.” In nearly 40 minutes of eye-opening thrills and chills, the listener experiences the pedagogy of Ahomale, journeying through her epiphanies and enlightenment. “Ahomale is a warrior, not the sword and shield type, but a woman who is ready to listen to her heart, follow her intuition and connect with her ancestors,” Oliveros avows.—Isabela Raygoza
Rudy De Anda
Rudy De Anda is bursting out of the musical melting pot of the LBC. As front man for the Long Beach psych-prog group Wild Pack of Canaries, Rudy felt the creative pull to begin a solo project that is currently catching fire and hitting the festival circuit with plays at last year's Noise Pop, SXSW, and Music Tastes Good. 2016's Delay, Cadaver of a Day is the follow-up to De Anda's debut EP, Ostranenie and broke into the Top 100 in the CMJ charts, coming in at #94.
"The albums have earned de Anda a rightful place in L.A.'s emerging alt-Latino movement, a growing collective of bands — including "big brothers" Chicano Batman, for whom de Anda has opened — that dabble in non-Latino scenes and support one another's efforts while charting individual paths so distinct it might be a stretch to call it a movement at all." In 2013, when the band was treading on and off hiatus, De Anda started writing his own songs and was approached by one of his musical mentors, Isaiah "Ikey" Owens (Mars Volta, Jack White) to record. Lost in their effortless chemistry, the two friends setup sessions in Ikey's living room in-between his Nashville trips and his Jack White tour schedule. Additionally, De Anda is part of a budding Los Angeles artist management group called Qvolé Collective representing and celebrating progressive Latino music from the US.The band has shared the stage with established acts Warpaint, The Specials, Chicano Batman, Dr. Dog, and No Age to name a few.
“Billy Changer has the name of the everyman in a Philip K. Dick story, and like the everyman in a Philip K. Dick story, there may be something special about him—something powerful even—that he neither knows about nor fully controls. This self-titled LP—originally one side of a split tape with Corners bandmate and frontman Tracy Bryant—is an understandably uneven listen. It was put together more from experiences that transformed into songs than as a plotted album, so you can’t ever be sure what’s coming next. Maybe an experiment: “Black Angel,” like the very early Spacemen 3 when they couldn’t quite keep their heads held up, with intently reverent subway-sound Velvet Underground guitar. Maybe a scene from a movie never made: instrumental “Chiller” is strange and a stand-out for it, a song with vibes so heavy it needed like an actual vibraphone. It’s urgent, nervous, even menacing—a walk alone as headlights flash off your back. Or maybe a deep one like “Sweet Time,” a Daniel Johnston heartbroke valentine with loose-as-hell Sticky Fingers production. Side two is where the album starts to dissolve into itself, where the songs can’t quite hold to each other and Changer brings out the slide guitar to show just how slidey everything can be. By closer “You’re My Girl,” we’re in a Flies On Sherbert waking dream with a song so loose it’s suddenly all around you. What makes this album far different from the usual “I made this!” autobio recordings are the vast wells of tension and want and id within—and the way the songs drift uneasily above them, sometimes warping and distorting in ways you’d never expect. “Band of Brothers” seems like it must just be about a night out with friends … but there is something staggeringly desperate and even tragic happening there, too. It’s like a song from a car going off a cliff—a snapshot of the instant just before moving forward becomes falling down. If there’s a Joy Divison influence at work here, it comes in three places: the lockstep rhythm at the second half of the resolute “Island Fever,” the razor’s-edge production precision and then these stark and fearless moments at the precipice. Changer always brings you back, but I wonder if that’s even scarier—he does know the edge is there, right?” —Chris Ziegler (LA Record)