El Bloque Depresivo Releases Debut On October 19th on Barbès Records
Barbès Records presents El Bloque Depresivo, the latest project from Macha, leader, and singer of the Chilean cult group Chico Trujillo.
A key figure in post-Pinochet Chilean culture, Macha began his career with the punk band La Floripondio twenty-five years ago. He would go on to massive success with the cumbia group Chico Trujillo, which became one the most popular groups in Chile. In 2012 Bloque Depresivo was born during Chico Trujillo’s live sets — the part of the show where the band played their slowest, most depressing songs to calm down overheated audiences.
Bloque Depresivo’s repertoire is deeply rooted in the culture of Valparaiso, Macha’s hometown. The popular songs of this Chilean port are suffused with the luxurious sadness, romantic despair and perverse happiness of poets, sailors, and sinners. Music to open your veins to? Maybe, but there are few sounds sweeter than this musical cri de coeur to their hometown fans.
Their self-titled debut album offers 12 tracks of porteño classics and original compositions in the same, um, vein. Peruvian waltzes like “Cada Domingo a las Doce” rub shoulders with gorgeous boleros and vintage romantic pop songs like “La Nave del Olvido” All reworked with loving new arrangements by some of the finest musicians in Chile, and a deep bench of guest collaborators including Alvaro Henriquez of Los Tres.
About El Macha: The Chilean Punk Crooner Behind Bloque Depresivo
In 1991, after almost two decades of dictatorship, Chile began its slow transition to democracy. After a long period of political and cultural repression, a new generation rediscovers the taste of provocation and the pleasure of protest. In the Valparaiso suburb of Villa Alemana, Macha (Aldo Asenjo), a young man of twenty-one, founds La Floripondio, a band that mixes punk, hardcore and ska with the rage and enthusiasm of a youth challenging a deeply-conservative society. Chile may have been on the road to democracy, but the country still lived in the shadow of Pinochet who even then remained a sitting Senator and a constant presence.
If Chile before 1973 saw the coming of the nueva cancion movement and activist art of all stripes, the repressive Pinochet era kept the country on the fringes of the late ‘70s punk explosion and all the currents of “alternative” music that followed. The first concerts of La Floripondio had an immediate resonance. The group invented its own codes and produced a raw music that has no precedent in Chile. It was called “Perkusive Punk Mariachi” or “Wild Style” and in a few years the band would become the Chilean equivalent of Clash or Mano Negra – but without ever leaving the club circuit underground. The band found success outside of Chile, too, with enthusiastic followings in Berlin and elsewhere.
While the punk spirit of La Floripondio perfectly suits Macha’s iconoclasm, he also has a taste for the lyricism of popular music from his childhood – in particular the cumbias which were the soundtrack of neighborhood festivals of the 60s and 70s.
In 1999 Macha put together his next band: Chico Trujillo, with a repertoire, made up of covers of old Chilean and Colombian bands and a mission to reintroduce their music to a new generation by suffusing cumbia with the energy of punk and protest. Their success is dazzling. Macha’s song “Loca” — becomes a surprise hit all over South America, and the band goes from underground clubs to stadiums in just a few years.
Chico Trujillo became the bridge between the era before Pinochet and what came after. A party wasn’t a party without their records. El Macha becomes a national icon but retains absolute independence. He doesn’t have a record company, publisher, or manager. He does not give interviews – not out of contempt, but because it seems pretentious. He prefers to speak on stage, directly to his audience, not in the press. He’s also nonstop, sometimes performing up to three concerts a day – often adding an impromptu La Floripondio gig in a local club after a performance by Chico Trujillo.
More recently, Macha became increasingly interested in old ballads, Peruvian waltzes and boleros so popular in the port of Valparaiso – sometimes called desamor canciones or despecho canciones in Spanish – these songs that all Chileans know by heart and that they sometimes sing at the end of the evening, before the closing of the bars. Macha had always said that he would start singing them on stage when he was old – but why wait?
During a European tour in 2012, Chico Trujillo began to dedicate part of its set to these songs. They name this part of their show El Bloque Depresivo: “The depressive set”. It’s a real cold shower on festival audiences who are there to drink and dance. And yet, the depressive block is popular and Macha, as usual, in tandem with his other projects, begins a whole new group, and Bloque Depresivo is born.