By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
If you hear something you don't like on Tripping Tropicana, the first U.S. release from Colombian rockers Superlitio, just wait a second. Even in this era of global musical promiscuity, the sextet from Cali is remarkably wanton with genres and moods. The disc opens with a hard rock guitar riff that is quickly cut through with the chant "Bumbo klaat/Babylon" in a dub loop over an electronic trance pulse. The pulse persists for a few seconds after the guitar cuts out, as a reggaetón vocal lays a bridge to a Blink-182 punk-lite rhythm guitar. From there the rest of the song is mix-and-match, a lot like those dolls you can twist to put a dog's head on a horse's shoulders resting on a rabbit's back with a duck's behind and an elephant's feet.
Not that Superlitio's eclectic sound is chaotic or computer-generated. Favorites and frequent headliners at Bogotá's enormous annual Rock Al Parque show -- the largest rock festival in the hemisphere -- they developed a crowd-pleasing quirk that keeps at least one guitarist rocking hard to please Colombia's loud and legion heavy metal fans, while the rest of the band spirals off into just about every other genre under the sun. By the time they got to tripping in a Los Angeles studio in 2002, with the help of Argentine producer Tweety Gonzalez (famous for his work with Soda Stereo, Fito Paez, and Illya Kuryaki), they were capable of practically superhuman quicksilver generic alchemy.
The first single, "Qué Vo' Hacer," slows down the hot boogaloo typical of Cali's legendary salsa clubs to a near chill speed while overlaying the nasal delivery of a salsero with a fuzzed-out garage vocal and backing the whole thing with U2-like atmospherics. But just when Superlitio comes on like an omni-rock outfit, the vibe shifts again to the shimmering nouveau-disco of "Mulata," followed by the punk-funk of "Circus," chock-full of James Brown samples and turntable scratching. That is followed in turn by the Biggie Smalls-meets-Issac Delgado sensuality of the hip-hop-timba track "Perdoname" ("Forgive Me"). And so it goes. It should come as no surprise that the language of the lyrics shifts as well, from English to Spanish to stabs at Jamaican patois. Yet for all the diversity both within and between songs, Superlitio maintains a coherence that can only be attributed to attitude. We are from Cali; we contain multitudes. Now get your culo on the dance floor.