So, basically, watching Peña perform on stage, I can tell you that main guitarist, Cory Wong, was deeply influenced and inspired by Afro-Peruvian from his experience in Lima, Peru.
This band caught my attention a few years ago with their danceable, upbeat, Latin rhythm that is heavy on percussion. Novalima’s refreshing invention of sound fuses the traditional Afro-Peruvian music with electronic, reggae, dub, salsa, hip-hop, and more.
Monday night's performance emanated with energy from the stage and connected the band to the audience. The vocalists called to the audience in traditional chants from slavery times that have remained a part of Afro-Peruvian music over hundreds of centuries. The lead female vocalist sang in her sultry, smooth voice of freedom and equality, while moving her hips and enticing the audience to join in dancing and singing along.
Through the night, the cajón – a traditional Peruvian box-like percussion instrument that is sat on and played by taping the front side – played a central role in creating the group’s musical flavor. Two percussionists dueled it out on the cajóns creating such a rapid paced beat with their hands you could hardly see the movement. They also began pounding out rhythms and rattling the quijada, an instrument which is a replica of a donkey skull. Novalima creates a modern world sound in its lively set with guitar, bass, other percussion instruments and a DJ.
The band’s guitar player, Rafael Morales explained that the Afro-Peruvian style is raw sound that comes straight from slaves brought to the area from West Africa, mainly the region around Angola. “One of our songs was even a big hit in Angola,” said Morales. “We didn’t know, but we kept receiving emails from people in Angola… because they relate so much to the rhythms.”
Novalima – whose members originate from Peru –were living around the globe in 2001, when they formed the group. They collaborated together sharing ideas via the Internet and uploading their work onto a shared folder.
In my interview with the Morales, he explained, “Now we use that a lot still. Because everyone is in Lima we come together in the studio, we play a few times a week, but the creative process is more in the home studio, and then we share with the other guys.”
Novalima has released three studio albums throughout their ten-year career. They have been nominated for a Latin Grammy, have topped the College Music Journal radio charts, and had songs featured on movie soundtracks and compilations. Their latest album, “Karimba,” will be available to a U.S. audience this September.
This group’s music will be a great addition to any collection, whether your heavy into electronic music, love the Latin or Afro sound, or you dance in the mirror at home.And honestly, our economy hasn’t entirely given itself a facelift yet, so why purchase an expensive vacation package when Novalima can take you to Peru without you needing to leave your home?!