By Kristen Day
Have you ever been to Peru? What about a dancefloor? Thanks to the eight-member Afro-Peruvian folk ensemble, Novalima, we’re headed to both! Novalima is an eclectic mix of ancient indigenous inspiration, Afro-Latino soul, danceable rhythm, and percussive post-production. So leave your passport at home, and let these 7 songs groove with you all week.
The first two tracks come from Novalima’s debut album, Afro in 2005. What’s most obvious is the ensemble’s facile mastery of instrumentation. Listen for the perfectly layered, toe-tapping percussion. As an added bonus, this one is guaranteed to make you sweat on any gym-time playlist.
Second, nothing beats the buttery vocals Novalima’s sole female vocalist featured on this track. Plus, we get the playful machismo of the song’s opening chant “Machete, Machete, Machete, Machete!” Overall, “Machete” makes a strong argument for being set on repeat all day.
#3 Africa Landó
“Africa Landó” is by far the sleekest song from their sophomore work, Coba Coba. The album’s namesake is a Spanish slang term shouted to cheer on performers and athletes alike. Sonically, this track invites you to the dancefloor with a wink and a smile. Whether or not you understand all of the lyrics, you can’t help but sway while listening to this tantalizing track. ¡Coba, Coba “Africa Landó”!
#4 Hotel BCN
“Hotel BCN” is the runaway favorite on the playlist. It’s the final track from their 2012 album, Karimba. We love “Hotel BCN” because it’s a masterclass in Novalima: layered, repetitive vocals, traditional instrumentation, and a horn section reminiscent of chart-toppers like Jason Derulo. This one demands a good listen and a crowded dancefloor. (You’ll see why we couldn’t sit long enough to write more!)
Next up, “Santero” is a danceable mix of traditional Latin percussion, like cowbell and cajon, mixed with Novalima’s trademark electronic influence. Santero sits among the more stripped-down sounds in our list. Thankfully, the simplicity complements the lead vocalist perfectly. “Santero” is one of two songs representing their album, Planetario on our playlist.
#6 Beto Kele (Nosostros Somos)
What’s not to love about this breezy track? “Beto Kele” turns voices into percussion and makes panflute cool again. Even better, you’ll be caught repeating “pura vida, puro amor” all day long. The phrase translates to “all is good, pure love”. That’s exactly how we feel about this track.
Last but not least is the subdued sound of “Herejia”, a product of their most recent work 2018’s Ch’usay. Listen for the mix of indigenous instrumentation and the pulsing rhythms that weave throughout.
Ready to move your feet? Dance along to all seven songs on our Spotify playlist!
If you like the playlist, you’ll love to see Novalima live on Friday, November 15th in Carnahan Hall!