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Albums Of The Week: Baracutanga | Volver Atrás

Past, present and future meet in the Albuquerque Latino-fusion sextet's second LP.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The Spanish phrase volver atrás means to turn back, but Baracutanga’s Kilko Paz explains that, in the context of their sophomore album, “It’s a way of moving forward. It’s putting the past in front of you as a reference.”

The band borrow this concept from the Aymara, an indigenous people of the Andes who see the past as being in front of us, because it’s what we can see, while the future is behind us because it’s unknown. Therefore, the past must be used to navigate the future.

Volver Atrás finds the six-member Albuquerque band returning to the raw, rhythmic South American sounds that have brought them a reputation for leaving audiences delighted, but exhausted from dancing. On this outing, they are digging even deeper into the deeply rooted musical genres that inspire them. Baracutanga interpret and mingle folkloric genres such as Brazilian samba and forro, cumbia, Andean huayno, and Colombian chande to create the perfect sonic blend for an album about where we all come from and where we are going.

Baracutanga’s joyful music is a fusion, but it’s an organic one, the product of the members’ combined musical backgrounds and interests. Powerhouse vocalist Jackie Zamora hails from Peru, bass player Carlos Noboa is from Ecuador, and Kilko, who most often plays the charango, is Bolivian, while drummer and percussionist Nick Baker, guitarist/accordion player Casey Mraz, and Micah Hood, who plays trombone and flutes, are from the U.S. Some members are university trained, others are self-taught musicians.

The members are mindful of the opportunity their platform provides them, and seek to write meaningful lyrics to accompany their irresistible beats. Volver Atrás features songs like the previously released Cuida Tus Espaldas, which deals intimately with family separation and other painful realities of being undocumented in a United States that has become increasingly inhospitable to immigrants. The rights of immigrants is one subject close to their hearts and that of their community. “We are immigrants. Some of us have experienced racism, as well,” Kilko says, “It’s our daily lives.”

Volver Atrás is Baracutanga’s call to explore their collective roots through music, reflecting on where they’ve come from and, even more importantly, where they are going. “As human beings, we have reached a point where the concept of ‘progress’ is destroying ourselves,” continues Kilko. “And the answers that we are desperately searching for laid in our past.”