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Analog Africa honors Polibio Mayorga's Andean cumbia

Ecuatoriana : El universo paralelo de Polibio Mayorga is one of the cornerstones of Polibio Mayorga’s edifice as a leader of Andean cumbia, a fusion of futuristic sounds and traditional Andean rhythms.

Cumbia refers both to a dance and a musical style, the genre, with American roots in the northern Colombian coast, has a history that goes much deeper. Cumbia is also pregnant with African influences on drums, Indian influences with flutes and a Spanish influence with the lyrical arrangements, guitars, and later, accordions. The word “cumbia” is said to originate from the word “cumbé”, a Ghanaian dance, it then became “Cumbancha” in Cuba to name a spontaneous grassroots party. The genre spread across almost the entire continent and gradually evolved as it reached new populations. Through this process, cumbia developed its special Andean flavor in the northern regions of Ecuador.

In between past and future, the fusion of tropical electronics mixed in with Andean melodies and lyrics describing the cruel reality of migrant workers, achieved massive success. Andean cumbia is imbued with the outer space dreams of its decade, represented with synthesized space effects (as the moog) but does not lose its cultural legacy; it only transcends it. Cumbia was not initially accepted by the country’s mainstream stars as it was synonymous with the lowerclass. Yet there was a demand among the montubios (working class) for songs that reflected the reality of their lives. 

Polibio Mayorga is a leading figure of this music and is deeply linked with these social questions. He crossed the country from his hometown of Chisalata to Quito with a spirit full of his ancestors traditional rhythms. After 4 years with Los Locos del Ritmo, one of Ecuador’s most popular bands, Polibio joined Fabrica De Discos S.A (Fadisa) – a vinyl pressing and a record company – in 1973 as a solo musician and songwriter before becoming their musical director a year later. Teaming up with the saxophonist Olmedo Torres, he started composing hits for other artists permitting Fadisa to reach a certain notoriety. His songs broadcasted by Cosmopolita and Marañon – the two major radio stations of Quito – led to a surge of interest in Andean cumbia. The compilation Ecuatoriana : el Universo Paralelo de Polibio Mayorga put the artist as a vanguard of the genre.

Analog Africa is digitizing and reissuing the opus and carrying us from the Andean mountains to hyper space limits, continuing Mayorga’s legacy. The CD will be delivered with a 24 pages booklet retracing the history of Andean cumbia and of the great Polibio Mayorga. 

Ecuatoriana : el universo paralelo de Polibio Mayorga , out April 7th via Analog Africa.