Trending Tropics: Calle 13’s Visitante and Vicente García Meditate on Virtual Insanity in New LP


Quincy Jones is among the most acknowledged and rightfully acclaimed figures in American well-liked music. He has organized or produced recordings by a lot of the most dazzling pop singers of the final sixty years, together with Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson, and for that he has taken house 27 Grammys in a mind-boggling variety of classes.

A profession like Jones’ is troublesome to duplicate, however Eduardo “Visitante” Cabra is doing his greatest: At simply 40 years previous, Eduardo “Visitante” Cabra has already received 24 Latin Grammys for his work as a author, producer and multi-instrumentalist within the category-annihilating group Calle 13, in addition to serving to Shakira, Jorge Drexler, Monsieur Periné, Diana Fuentes and extra within the studio.  

On Friday, Visitante returns with an absorbing new album as Trending Tropics, a joint launch with the Latin Grammy-winning Dominican singer Vicente García. (Visitante additionally produced García’s unfailingly stunning A La Mar, launched in 2016.) Like a lot of Calle 13’s work, Trending Tropics has livid vitality and boundless musical curiosity, reaching from hip-hop to reggae, from merengue to disco, from choral music to fuzzy African rock. This stylistic bounty is put on the service of a single narrative: Trending Tropics is a 13-song exploration of the assorted ways in which YouTube and Instagram and Twitter and different digital creations have re-wired human lives, and never all the time for the higher.

“It’s of our distorted relationship with know-how,” says Visitante, sitting on a small sofa with García in a downtown Manhattan recording studio, sporting a Panama hat at a usually roguish angle. “There are bizarre issues that occur now,” García provides, “like this man who left his spouse to stay with a silicon lady in Japan. These tales began being the concepts to write down the songs.”

The duo recorded Trending Tropics in studios around the globe — San Juan, Madrid, Santo Domingo, New York City — and labored with a variety of collaborators (Vetusta Morla, iLe, Ana Tijoux, Nidia Góngora), however they keep a sniper-like deal with techno-fatuation. Named after the Spanglish time period for the Internet, “Elintelné” is a narrative about an alien creature who lands on the earth and tries to find out why all people are staring on the flooring — they’re really peering down at omnipresent telephones. “Elintelné” would possibly simply be the quickest tune you’ll hear this 12 months; Juan Paz, who manages Trending Tropics, likens it to Mambo Violento“On Fire” is one other tune the place know-how is anthropomorphized with harmful penalties: Visitante describes it as “a observe a couple of man who goes insane with love behind a monitor.” The producer provides, “[The narrator] sees a floppy disk in his mattress, and the floppy tells him, ‘burn all of it.’” 

“Most belongings you take heed to, folks sit there with their guitar, keyboard, kazoo, no matter, they usually’re like, ‘Inspiration got here, I simply bought dumped, I wish to write about that!’” jokes Fab Dupont, an engineer, producer and longtime Visitante collaborator who has a hand on each tune on Trending Tropics. Visitante and García, says Dupont, weren’t so frivolous. “These guys got here in like, ‘that is what we wish to do, they usually actually caught to the theme,’” Dupont stresses. “It’s not simply random songs about no matter.”

Even the twisting musical types and altering tempos on Trending Tropics supply a touch upon the affect of recent know-how on tradition. In a streaming-heavy, algorithm-obsessed period, the place becoming right into a monochrome playlist could make the distinction between a success and a whiff, the music trade’s tendency to comply with specific developments has gone into overdrive. In mainstream Latin well-liked music, which means there’s a glut of reggaeton and entice — it’s arduous to search out a lot else, for instance, on the Spotify playlist “Viva Latino,” which is among the hottest collections on all the platform.

Visitante got here out of reggaeton and hip-hop — see the early, still-great Calle 13 hit “Atrévete-te-te” — however, he worries, “Latin music proper now, all of the sound is similar: the identical concord, the identical association.” In distinction, he says, “[Trending Tropics] has totally different moods: Friday temper, Tuesday temper, the entire week within the album.” This is, in itself, a small protest.  

With “Reasons to Fight,” an English-language collaboration with Ziggy Marley, Trending Tropics go even additional of their efforts to hyperlink their overarching theme to the development of the music itself. The tune ends with a protracted part of cacophony, a purposeful irritant. The musicians anticipate that almost all listeners will resolve to skip forward to the following observe to spare their ears: and that’s the purpose. “They have the facility to finish the tune,” Dupont says. Similarly, he provides, in the case of smartphone infatuation, “they’ve the facility to finish the madness.” 

Visitante and firm are additionally scheming up extra methods to light up “the madness” in a forthcoming video, which can zero in on the clicks-for-purchase financial system; however Trending Tropics stress that they’re not all for “preaching” a tech-free lifestyle. Visitante explains, “It’s criticizing the hyperconnection that we have now, but it surely’s South Park type, that type of humor.” At one level, he jokes that García has taken up with a silicon accomplice as effectively.

“We tried to specific totally different, distorted methods of residing,” the producer continues, “however we’re not exempt. We are making enjoyable of us. We are hooked on this shit. When I’m working within the studio, and I’m within the cellphone, Vicente tells me, ‘Ah, you’re giving meals to social media!’”

Similarly, Trending Tropics isn’t musically heavy-handed — it’s typically deliciously breathless and teeming with hooks. Visitante is justifiably cautious of know-how. But that by no means stands in the best way of him programming an irresistible beat.