Alex Anwandter | Balún
One of the leading names of South America’s new vibrant pop scene, Alex Anwandter brings together ’80s-influenced dance music and emotional songwriting, all wrapped up in engaging live performances full of raw intimacy and showmanship. Nominated for two Latin GRAMMY Awards, his groundbreaking performance of “Manifiesto” at the 2016 awards show made a strong statement for LGBT+ rights. Anwandter’s most recent release, the critically-acclaimed and Latin GRAMMY Award-nominated Latinoamericana (2018), is lushly composed and, although rhythmic and club-worthy, is rich with cutting lyrics.
“In many ways, the album is a direct reaction to the world, and specifically South America, turning towards demagogues and authoritarian leaders with the hope of remedying social and economic ills … In other ways, the album seems shaped by Anwandter’s experience as a U.S. resident in the Trump era, a child of Latin America burdened with witnessing a repeating history of oppression, ignorance, and autocracy in both his native and adopted homes.” (Remezcla)
Brooklyn-based electronic indie band Balún broke out of the San Juan indie scene a decade ago and has since undergone a formational odyssey through the industry, academia, and the stateside Puerto Rican experience. Balún’s long-awaited sophomore album, Prisma Tropical, combines an incredibly wide field of genres and influences into a revelatory sound that evokes both the band’s homes and the distance between them.
Heavy doses of tiple, bomba barrel drum, and dembow work alongside loops and layers of shimmering synths to accomplish something explicitly of the island, yet fluent in the language of global pop. Tied together around the magical realism of singer Angélica Negrón’s lyrics, Balún’s deep understanding of reggaeton’s Jamaican dancehall roots has transformed their shoegaze pop into “dreambow.”