Pan Caliente: Aterciopelados – Claroscura

It’s been 9 years since the iconic duo Aterciopelados (from Bogotá, Colombia) last released new music. And, while they were missed, there’s no denying that absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.

During their hibernation in the cosmos, it appears that Andrea Echeverri & Héctor Buitrago have been listening to a lot of the contemporary sounds happening in music all around them.

New album Claroscura opens with a pop-leaning jam entitled “Play”, featuring vocals from Chilean, hip-hop empress, Ana Tijoux. The refrain of the chorus with its simple “Juguemos. Let’s Play,” lays the ground-work for the thesis of this new album.

Their statement?

That a band with an emblematic style since the early 90’s doesn’t have to take itself so seriously. And, even despite their proprietary twang, iconic voice, and soothing arrangements, they can still pull off an album that is playfully exploratory.

Take the dense cumbia beats on “Cuerpo” and “Tu Amor Es.”

They are both heavily produced songs that would be more akin to something you’d hear on a Bomba Estéreo or a Dengue Dengue Dengue record. Standout track Soñemos un bosque incorporates a danceable beat to what would otherwise be another traditional, introspective, socially conscious, Aterciopelados track.

Not to be outdone by the music, Andrea Echeverri has been crafting a dialogue about femininity since the days of their hit, “Florecita Rockera,”. Here she approaches the lyrical content of this album with an emboldened humorous flair.

On tracks like “Cuerpo”, “Despierta Mujer”, “Vieja” and “Piernas”, she confronts societal constructs about the female form, body image issues, aging, and self-affirmation; all while taking strong positions on the spiritual consciousness of femininity. It’s a point of view that is woke AF and still not as pervasive in Latin American cultures.

To round out this 8th studio album, there are lighthearted tracks like “Dúo” & “Show”.  The latter cites their love/hate relationship with having to create new material and constantly perform. While the former is an introspective, autobiographical account about Andrea & Héctor’s long-standing musical relationship.

Claroscura, is a masterwork of modern music. It not only bridges the iconography of a legendary band with new material, but it also brings them back into the forefront of relevant bands. It’s layered with critical, lyrical subject matter and still finds a way to get you grooving.

(photos c/o artist