Xaman X were born as a support band for the Midnight Ritual club night playing alongside national and international DJs and bands coming to Bristol for truly tropical parties. Thus their agenda was clear from the get go: they needed to warm up the crowd, limb by limb. Since then they’ve gone on to play many of the UK’s biggest festivals including Shambala, Tropical Pressure & Secret Garden Party.
The group’s four members were brought together by a shared love for tropical psychedelia and cumbia, and it’s these sounds that come to the fore on their debut EP. “Distraido” kicks things off, a nonchalant cumbia rebajada (slow cumbia) with flecks of charango, driving bass and cosmic effects, that wills us all to slow down and take a moment out of our busy lives. It’s prime Latin American folktronica, think Chancha Via Circuito or El Búho, but with Marta Zu’s lead vocals recalling Lido Pimienta’s more club-ready features.
It’s followed by “Hoy”, the rhythm shifting up a gear, and now with flute and percussion sparring with synth and bass in that ageless organic versus electronic instrumental battle. It’s a track that the group describe as a “celebration to life” and a “call to be positive” that invites the listener to “expel the bad and burn fears through singing and dancing”. The final track, “Cafe & Banana”, ups the tempo even further. It’s a track created with their live shows, known for their hyper-visual approach with lights, sets and costumes galore, in mind, a merging of old rituals and postmodern parody, as represented by the song’s chorus: “Coffee and Bananas, in the morning and in the night”.
Xaman X’s distinctive approach stems from the group’s myriad backgrounds: synths and bass are courtesy of Pablo Villierezz, aka Panther Panther!, a visual artist and musician from Mexico; Spanish-Peruvian paleobiologist Susana Gutarra is responsible for guitar, charango and flute; local Bristolian percussionist Jackson Lapes, known for his work with Worm Disco Club and maracatu collective Afon Sistema; and Spanish singer and artist Marta Zubieta completing the line-up on vocals.
The Xaman X EP is out now on Movimientos Records