Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Zemog El Gallo Bueno is an audacious, spiked-wristband to the jaw of contemporary world music–hard-rocking, hard-arting, undeniably New York. Making what Peruvian-born, Puerto Rican-born, Bronx-residing composer Abraham Gomez-Delgado calls “21st Century Latin music,” Zemog toys with whatever sounds drift in and out of his apartment windows. Gomez-Delgado points to Puerto Rican bomba, Van Halen and Sun Ra; there are also afro-Peruvian grooves, caffeinated salsa, Rain Dogs-era Tom Waits, Carl Stalling cartoon freak-outs, and Zorn slice-and-dice. You know how Dirty Projectors kind sound natural when they smush non-Euro grooves into wild avant-rock? Yeah, well this is like the awesome inverse of that. Gomez-Delgado has kindly provided us a rough mix of “Bomba Sin Plana,” a track slated for their upcoming third album on Mr. Bongo records. Polyrhythmic drums bubble and pop, saxes drone menacingly, a Mancini groove bursts from nowhere, lively grooves devolve into free-jazz sax torture, and then re-emerge triumphantly. It’s a seamless smash-up of about a billion awesome things.
What is “Bomba Sin Plena” about?
Bomba Sin Plena’s lyrics were written by the great poet/playwright Magdalena Gomez. The song is about the billions of dollars that are made on human suffering–mainly from AIDS and cancer. Originally, this song was written for a collaboration CD between Magdalena and I as a trio version. When she gave me the lyrics I just heard the melody, and when Zemog El Gallo Bueno started playing it we arranged it further. I wanted to do this song in bomba yuba becuase it is important for me to play Puerto Rican rhythms that are underrepresented.
Are you working on something new?
We have been recording in my loft in the South Bronx over that last few months. We are making a new album. We have about 10 new tracks. We are continuing the exploration of both heading toward tradition and getting away from tradition. I think of this as living in the present–as the present is the past and the future all at the same time.
What do you think of bands like Dirty Projectors or Vampire Weekend, who are currently toying with stuffing non-euro grooves into art-rock?
I am not familiar with these bands but I encourage anyone to push their musical boundaries just as long as there is respect for what came before and faith in what is to come. The music I make is just what I grew up with, all together. It has been my job to have all the different influences get the most out of each other, even when they battle each other.
What’s your favorite place to eat in New York?
I have to say that Coqui Mexican–Third ave. and 161st–is my favorite spot in the Bronx and in all of NYC. The place is a Puerto Rican/Mexican restaurant in the South Bronx and they have congas and an accordion to play hybrid latin music. The owners Diego and “D” are beautiful people!
Zemog El Gallo Bueno plays Barbes on Saturday, January 16