i confess a weakness for accordions.

if you’re rushed for time listen to the second one first.

Cool Arrow Cumbia mix – excerpt 1

Cool Arrow Cumbia mix – excerpt 2

2 contiguous fragments of an excerpt of a very recent cumbia mix caught streaming here. Includes a handful of Celso Piña tracks.


Excerpt 2 contains Piña’s song from the film Babel, a track that would be brilliant if Manu Chao hadnt used a similar formula to sell millions of records, imbedded in a movie about a complex and interconnected world where personal struggles are shot through by larger machinations of power and bursts of dangerous unpredictability, a multi-tiered society where the powerless connect with the privileged in increasingly violent encounters, realism, and the characters in this land with the most emotional depth are North American movie stars with perfect teeth like everybody who has ever had braces, only brighter.

Babel is about Brad Pitt trying to date Cate Blanchett on the secret while his girlfriend buys babies in Africa and a Japanese girl keeps pulling up her skirt. It’s hard to keep a secret if you are famous. The movie-version Moroccan kids with the gun didn’t have a real gun, they were Pakistani kids with a plastic replica in the sun-baked Spanish landscape where drought has forced entire provinces to abandon farming and work offering ‘Moroccan/American Southwest’ film location services at sub-Saharan wage scales, on the low-end of which stand these kids’ “parents”, the adults who control the child actors, the ones who get paid for the kids’ work.

Things were better before Andalusian tourism collapsed, taking the hospitality sector with it. Elsewhere, a Mexican woman loses children that aren’t hers. The Japanese girl stands naked because she has thrown her clothes off the roof.

The Pakistani child actors who dont get anything aren’t on the wage scale. Division by zero f*cks arithmetic. And in the real-life version that the movie is based on, these kids had a digital camera they were trying to “shoot” runaway lovers Pitt and Blanchett with, to get photographs to sell to the highest paying gossip magazine. The fees can be astronomical. Apparently they just upload them via Blackberry once the money arrives in their online offshore bank account. It’s considered ‘paper-free business’ and the carbon rebates for companies and incorporated individuals are rumored to be indulgent.


  1. holy shit, jace. accordions? now, we’re getting somewhere. my dad plays the accordion and my grandfather (who recently passed away) learned to play from some of the earliest germans who immigrated and brought the instrument to texas. he eventually played norteño music–a wonderful hybrid of working class mexican folk, country music and german polkas. of course, colombian cumbias are more fun and are quite danceable. they’re different in mexico, a little slower and less slurred.

    if you’re curious, you should listen to Control Machete or El Gran Silencio. both are groups from Monterrey, Mexico that use accordion samples (or in El Gran Silencio’s case, real ones) in Spanish hip-hop. Control Machete is on one of those Celso Pina tracks from the mix.

    good stuff.

  2. chris – what a zinging review!! & martin – i still dont fully understand how german polka bass-playing evolved and stabilized, it seems like the bass players would get bored and switch it up, add more notes (!), etc. but the accordeons, YES. that’s fantastic. estoy escuchano a Los Tigres del Norte, buscaré Control M y Silencio.

  3. yes Jace thanks for this post.
    accordians are nice from Sudan to Sinaloa!
    instead of the banda(with Tuba bass) I should’ve sent some Norteno.
    was the Chalino cd a no comment?thanks for the tips from the others.

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