Meridian Brothers, "Mandala" (Ansonia Records)

Led by guitarist/vocalist Eblis Álvarez, Colombia's Meridian Brothers have been weirding up the Latin American musical genres such as cumbia, salsa, and vallenato on recordings over the last 18 years. On albums such as 2012's Desesperanza and 2015's Los Suicidas, for example, they deploy space-age-electronic textures within the framework of cumbia's intricate, sinuous rhythms and vivacious melodies. The results are deliriously disorienting. That a South American group this strange has broken through, to a degree, in North America is highly unusual. Sometimes the music-industry gods bestow benevolence when you least expect it.

Meridian Brothers' new album, Mi Latinoamérica Sufre (out July 12), again finds Álvarez playing every instrument on it. The man's occasional penchant for goofy singing unfortunately surfaces on the record's first single, "En el Caribe Estoy Triste," but the sprightly, Ghanaian highlife guitar figure, galloping beats, and vigorously shaken maracas tilt the song into the "W" column. You will feel one-quarter of your actual weight while this zesty gem is playing. 

Mi Latinoamérica Sufre's newest single, "Mandala," again features Álvarez's guttural-vocal shtick, but the music's even more off-kilter, an oddly metered rhythm rolling and tumbling over a pointillistic, hypnotic guitar spangle that bears a timbral similarity to NYC No Wavers Robert Quine and Jody Harris's eccentric interplay on the 1981 cult classic, Escape. The press release for Mi Latinoamérica Sufre cites the influence of the "rhythmic pulse of Afro-Venezuelan 'tambor,'" and on this evidence, we all need to explore that genre in more depth.

Meridian Brothers prove that irreverence toward artistic tradition and unlikely fusions of sonic elements often yield the most interesting results. More than a quarter century into their existence, they continue to generate fresh ideas while maintaining their distinctive identity.  


enereph, "Cold Family" (NAGA) 

Seattle producer enereph (aka Connie Fu) is making some of the most interesting electronic music in the Pacific Northwest. A proponent of the Seattle-based electronic-instrument company Madrona Labs, Fu uses its software synth Kaivo and other products to forge complex tracks that flit among styles with scientific rigor and a gusto for unusually fascinating timbres. 

You can hear enereph attaining an even stronger command of her considerable skills on the new Immortal Mirth mini-album (released June 10 on Vancouver, B.C. label NAGA). The record begins auspiciously with "Talisman," a new species of trip-hop that's way more otherworldly than the original '90s version. Fathoms-deep bass bellows amid swirling, sub-aquatic synth sorcery and unusual percussion tics as finely delineated as needlepoint. This is how you draw in listeners. 

"Carved Nephrite" is deeply cavernous, kinetic IDM in which enereph slices and dices beats with the intensity of a world-class sushi chef. The impact of Autechre's mid-'90s machine funk looms, but not in an overbearing way. "Carved Nephrite" achieves the difficult feat of sounding both disciplined and haywire. (By the way, the internet informs me that nephrite is a lesser-valued jade that symbolizes balance, harmony, and luck. This cut is as hard as that substance.) With its splenetic, punch-press beats, glistening, alien atmospheres, and wispy chants, "Insolubility" balances aggression and vaporousness with impressive skill. "Numbers Fall From Stars" deviates from the record's punchy norm, going into meditative-ambient mode, all icy grandeur and tremulous beauty.

Powered by the frantic skittering beats of footwork, "Cold Family" also evokes a rave anthem of sorts, but with more complex rhythms and interesting textures than those typically possess. These whiplash, threshing beats slap hard and the sounds whooshing, burbling, and boinging above them duly psychedelicize your mind. This track is so strong, it merited its own pugnacious remix, by the Canadian producer Looting.

After seeing enereph perform at 4Bs Tavern not that long ago, I predicted that she would be playing festivals before 2024 was over. If that prognostication doesn't come to pass, then that's on festival organizers, not enereph.