Washington DC, USA – Smithsonian Folkways Recordings released recently Viento de Agua Unplugged: Materia Prima, a back-to-basics recording of Afro-Puerto Rican bomba
and plena roots repertoire songs recorded “live in studio” by one of the styles’
most prominent ensembles.
Meaning “Raw Material,” the title ‘Materia Prima‘ reflects Viento de Agua’s
approach to the album: they dispense with overdubbing and layering techniques
typical of commercial productions to present these basic, people’s genres in
tune with their original, street-corner intentions. Bomba and plena forms,
though different in their origins, both rely on intense percussion and
call-and-response vocals to express the social experience of Puerto Rico’s
African descendant population.This is the ninth recording in a series of 25 Latino recordings sponsored by the
Smithsonian Latino Music Project’s Tradiciones/Traditions program, Materia
Prima is a special contribution to the history of recorded Afro-Puerto Rican
The Afro-Puerto Rican bomba first emerged during the period of slavery in the
latter 17th century. These socially subversive songs provided the people with
needed diversion and spiritual inspiration, and served as a catalyst for slave
rebellions and uprisings against inhuman conditions. Plena, meanwhile, developed
in the beginning of the 20th century in the coastal areas of Ponce and Mayagüez.
The style’s appearance corresponds to the formation of the Puerto Rican working
class, largely concentrated in and around the huge, U.S.-owned sugar
plantations. The plena tend to be more narrative and topical in its themes, and
is sometimes identified with political protest movements or satirical
commentaries on social power.
Buy Viento de Agua Unplugged
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.