While creating music firmly rooted in Columbian traditions, Brooklyn-based outfit Combo Chimbita often sound like they're broadcasting live from another planet entirely. Ahomale is the band's second full-length album and expands on their cosmic approach to Afro-Latin styles, incorporating a wealth of celestial synth sounds into performances that are both fiery and controlled. The first of many striking things about Combo Chimbita's sound is the power of singer Carolina Oliveros' voice. The brief introductory track "Sola" pairs soft synth pads with hushed vocal lines from Oliveros. As the intro spills into the sinister title track, her voice slowly rises from confident exclamations to tormented wails as the band concocts a brew of psychedelic tropical metal to back her up. The group's multi-faceted approach always puts polyrhythmic playing in the forefront, but augments their sound with dubby production and heavy doses of keyboardist/bassist Prince of Queens' trippy synth sounds. The simmering "Brillo Más Que El Oro (La Bala Apuntándome)" finds Combo Chimbita at full-strength, as glassy synth lines and fluttering guitar sound dialed into '70s Afropop settings but take dramatic turns toward the futuristic as the song goes on. All of this is guided by Oliveros' forceful vocals, which glide along unfettered as the band dips into reggae detours ("El Camino"), witchy funk ("Esto Es Real [8100mg])," and even the sinister sci-fi vibes of "Santo Fuerte." Every minute of Ahomale is delivered with intensity that ranges from warm and exciting to almost scary. The precision playing and flawless design of Ahomale take the listener on a mind-bending trip through unexplored worlds, where both danger and discovery lurk.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas