Tradition is a tricky beast. There are those who would leave it as a dusty museum exhibit. Then there are others who see further, into the possibility of tradition, a line that runs through history all the way to the present. They're the ones who respect the past but aren't going to be hidebound by it, who make it a very vital part of now. People like Kuenta i Tambu, who've transformed the old tambu music of Curacao into the 21st-century phenomenon of Tambutronic.
Then meets now through hard kicks and hooky synths, the gritty good times that spawned bass music's tropical, global offshoots, from baile funk to moombahton. Taking up the sounds that evolved in Dutch clubs and mashing them effortlessly with the group's percussive, evocative Caribbean roots, Kuenta i Tambu proves how easily traditional grooves can move in new, unexpected ways.
Though as fresh as M.I.A. or Major Lazer, Kuenta i Tambu's music
began long ago and far away. On Curacao, an island in the Caribbean
close to the coast of Venezuela, history remains very much alive.
Originally home to the Arawak Indians, it was conquered by the Spanish in 1499 and became Dutch in 1634. But in many ways it's almost an outpost of Africa, a first stop for slave ships on their journey to South America, and the influence of another continent is still powerful.
For centuries, the people have celebrated with drums and singing, styles like seu, muzik di zumbi (music of the spirits), and above all, tambu.
When Roel Calister, a Curacao-born percussionist who moved to the Netherlands, began his career, it was with the traditional music of his homeland, everything he'd learned as he grew up. The band he founded in 2005, Kuenta i Tambu, played and sang acoustically. It even infused the material he composed. But in 2010 a sea change happened, following a change in band membership.
"Like a lot of people, we were listening to hip-hop, to dance music," Calister recalls. "We started experimenting with beats and electronics to give our music the feel that fascinated us in European electronic music, music we really loved. We released an EP and the style we call Tambutronic was born." Since then Kuenta i Tambu have evolved and refined their music. They've introduced Tambutronic music to several continents and added a new singer, Diamanta, to make them into a five-piece.
"The people there are very proud that we took the step to give the
old music a new look," Calister says. "We stay true to the roots
but we also give the island its own voice in the modern world."
Older folks, familiar with the tradition, hear it in the music while youngsters who've grown up with American hip-hop, R&B and the global flavor of dance music, hear their own world reflected at them. And that's an important way to keeping the past alive and strong.
The band's latest EP, 'Muchu Danki', continues to match rhythms to blunt electronics, relentless, innovative and blessed with incredible energy. The quintet is able to display a diversity to their sound ranging from tracks such as 'Where To Go' which is a laid back carnival groove and 'Peace Of Mind' billowing cross-currents between old and new. One thing, however, is certain: their energetic percussion is guaranteed to see some shapes on the dance floor and their hypnotizing beat is impossible to shake. Live, Kuenta i Tambu are a non-stop Carnival, a riot of beats and rhythms that take the audience deep into the Caribbean. Above all, though, it's obvious that the musicians enjoy playing the music and the live percussion thunders through the air. "We have fun," says Calister, "and that's the key." Tambutronic: where Curacao's past dances with its future and takes on the world.
The Guardian: "...lacerated by the sounds of Dutch quartet Kuenta i Tambu, who take Afro- Curacaoan tambu music to ravey new highs." - Review on Glastonbury 2015
Red Bull Music: "...heavy percussive dance beats with catchy melodies native to the tiny Caribbean island of Curacao."
New York Times: "The six-beat complexity and metal percussion of tambu arrived, strategically, as peaks of momentum."
Rolling Stone: "Sounds like: A super-crunk, blacklight warehouse party surrounded by four separate Carnival parades."
26 Jun, 2019
Stormzy will headline at Pyramid Stage on Friday night at Glastonbury Festival, and the day features a packed line-up of Primary Talent International artists.
14.00-14.40: Yellow Days (William's Green)
14.00-15.00: The Wombats (Other Stage)
15.00-16.30: Connie Constance (Left Field)
16.00-16.40: Sundara Karma (Williams Green)
16.30-17.00: Dylan Cartlidge (The Rabbit Hole)
16.50-17.55: Kuenta (Glade)
19.00-19.40: Sunflower Bean (William's Green)
19.00-19.45: Gaffa Tape Sandy (The Unfairground)
19.20-20.20: Swimming Girls (Avalon Cafe Stage)
20.00-21.00: Dub Pistols (Glade)
20.15-21.15: Two Door Cinema Club (Other Stage)
21.00-22.00: Pale Waves (John Peel Stage)
22.15-23.45: Stormzy (Pyramid Stage)
23.00-00.00: Mollie Collins (The Temple)
00.00-00.45: Jamz Supernova (Shangri-La)
01.00-02.00: Snow B2B Jamz Supernova (The Gas Tower)
01.15-02.45: Pinty (Stonebridge)
03.30-04.30: Kasra B2B Randall (The Temple)
23 Jun, 2018
The Boomtown festival, will take place in Hampshire from 9th-12th August, and features a whole host of Primary Talent International artists.
...Employed To Serve
...Kuenta i Tambu
14 Jul, 2017
Watch Kuenta i Tambu's live appearances at Glastonbury Festival and Nuits Africaines in Belgium.
06 Jun, 2017
"What started as a promising weekend tour in UK with scheduled performances in Cornwall and Bedford, ended unexpectedly on May 28th, 2017 with a major tragedy for our band.
While traveling from Cornwall, after a memorable night of performing at our first concert of the weekend to a repeat concert in Bedford, our beloved band bus (a.k.a La Senora) had an engine failure and caught fire along the M5 Highway. Absolutely everything from instruments, passports, phones, laptops, iPads, cherished personal belongings to our complete stage setup including our beloved bus burned down completely.
We are grateful and thankful to be unharmed, but saddened to witness our beloved band bus, instruments, and most of our personal belongings burned down to ashes. Unfortunately, we are only receiving a fraction of the worth from our insurances. Many of our things and most of which hold great sentimental value to all of us, are irreplaceable. Some of this gear belonged to us for more than 15 years.
To be able to perform at our upcoming shows we are luckily able to borrow some instruments and equipment from our dear friends and colleagues. However, our traditional instruments will have to be made by hand and shipped from Curacao.
We hope, with a little help from our friends and fans, that we can look to replace some of the equipment we have lost. We've set up a crowdfunding so we hopefully can replace this equipment soon. If you feel like helping us, by sharing this crowdfunding and help us spread the word, we would be incredibly grateful.
We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.
Roel, Diamanta, Daniel, Danny, Yariv, Vijay, Jovani en Daniel"
17 May, 2017
Kuenta I Tambu played at the Bevrijdingsfestival in the Netherlands, on Liberation Day 5th May 2017.
17 May, 2017
"We are excited to unleash our new party single 'Aloe' ft Cookachoo.
Inspired by the nostalgic effects of island home sickness, we created a feel good song filled with addictive guitar riffs, fluid melodies, delicious drums and a hook that will be in your head for days!
So stand up if you're feeling the need to be tropical, give yourself some 'Aloe', and start movin' cause 'Aloe' is healthy for da body!!!"
Purchase 'Aloe' from the link below.
14 Feb, 2017
Kuenta i Tambu preview their new 'Riba Kaya Tour 17' video.
19 Jul, 2016
Kuenta i Tambu present a new video for 'Don't Wanna Behave' featuring Typhoon, live in the Red Bull Studios.
10 Dec, 2014
Kuenta i Tambu release a new track 'Santa Electra' featuring Elia Isenia, available now on Basserk Records.