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Sample Track 1:
"Tunupa" from Ambrolina
Sample Track 2:
"Jauja" from Ambrolina
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Kali Mutsa, Ambrolina (SHOCK Music) 2012 SXSW Showcase Altered States of the Altiplano:
Kali Mutsa’s Electro Gypsy Cumbia Bumps Bolder than Bollywood

Like Venus rising from the waves, the cat-eyed whirlwind of a woman rose from the magical earth and rarified air of myth-filled Chilean valley nearly a century ago. Daughter of Roma wanderers, protégée of the last remnants of the Incan aristocracy, holder of a secret dream, she gyrated across silver screens and dusty stages, chanting freedom and seduction with a polychrome wink.

They called her Kali Mutsa, and she sang the revolution.

Now after decades in mysterious seclusion, the ancient legend and Dayglo-hot maven has returned with unrelenting beats, brilliant Bollywood flourishes, and wry instinct for the perfect pastiche. Whispering in your ear in Romany, dancing to glitchy electronics and booming tubas, Kali turns a hundred years of Chilean history into dancefloor-riffling songs with a sensual twist that make other pop divas pale in comparison.

“I sing the dream of a land where there are no slaves and no one is belittled,” Kali cries as she spins and shimmies, “where we can speak all languages, where we can speak with animals, and where nature and tradition are expressed with total madness and creativity!”

Hear her roar for the first time in the U.S. at SXSW, on tour, and on the cheeky Ambrolina (SHOCK music; Release March 13, 2012), a Technicolor window into the wildest reaches of Chile’s living, panting past and electric future, recorded after Kali sprang back on the scene.

{full story below}

Born in 1920 to Gitano parents, part of the unheralded Gypsy migration to northern Chile’s quiet hinterlands, Kali found herself orphaned at a tender age in an island of lush jungle amid the daunting high passes and salt flats, the peculiar valley of Pachacutí.

“It’s a jungle in the middle of the desert. It can be invisible, or invincible,” Kali croons. “It’s a place where a lot of myths are made flesh. You can see birds talking and rivers made of wine and things you only hear about in the rest of Chile. But here you live the myths.”

Kali, raised by an Aymara chief and his princess wife, soon wove myths of her own. Beautiful and just feral enough, she was discovered by an enigmatic movie man and Amazonian explorer Sandoje Catiri, who came to the valley thanks to a generous shaman who saved Catiri’s life by feeding him with his own magical flesh. She was a belly dancer, a circus girl, the belle of small-town stages in windswept corners of Chile. Soon Kali was the darling of the talkies and the ravishing poster girl for liberty, leading her people in revolution.

Then her voice fell suddenly silent.

Until last year, when she reemerged, cloaked in the body of sultry Chilean actress and television star, Celine Reymond. Long a devotee of Romany music and language, a huge Bollywoodophile, she loved singing Gypsy songs, but wanted to imagine something fresh, to take the roots and run with them.

“In Chile, indie music is really, really big, and everyone does music. Every Chilean also writes poetry, something the world doesn’t know about us,” Reymond explains. “We love the word; that’s in our blood. But no one is into Gypsy music.”

To get her Gypsy fix, Reymond found herself channeling the mythical Kali Mutsa—and with her, a fantastical tale encompassing all of Chilean history. She teamed up with producer and musician Cristóbal Montes (Sandoje Catiri’s current incarnation), who madly, lovingly mixed cumbia, Chilean roots, wry techno beats, and evocative atmospherics for a digital carnival with serious Andean power. Kali’s voice purrs and twitters, while Montes’ tracks hit smart and hard, packing a musical punch that can stand up to the brilliant back-story.

Under Kali’s guidance, Reymond and Montes wrote hymns to the indigenous Altiplano equivalent of Hermes, the divine messenger Tunupa, guardian of nature. Kali sings eerie songs to the elusive San Cipriano, the patron saint of love magic and white witchcraft. She salutes intrepid llama-herding ladies, promoting their defiant calls for unionization and respect (“El Camello”). She weeps for her kidnapped son, whose wings took him out of their blessed valley and into the clutches of a dubious circus promoter (“Ton King Dom”).

The myths and wild tales, like the diverse, multilayered music, free the duo to take on new, sharp, bright perspectives, to talk about things in Chile that have been lost, forgotten, neglected, or hijacked like Kali’s handsome winged son or the breath of a mysterious valley.

“It’s another way to see reality,” Reymond says.

“Everything began with myth and not with history,” Kali reflects. “You have to drink the desert air from the Altiplano to keep your memory.” 

<< release: 03/13/12 >>