Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased tracks, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Matapalo Matamusa” by Jose Conde from his 2011 self-titled album on Pipiki.
Jose Conde’s music is an international blend of Latin and American styles, with a heavy emphasis on rhythm and world groove mutations. In his new project and first solo and self-titled album, Jose Conde trades the Cuban tres for a vintage Gretsch, for a refined and personal collection of songs clothed in electric and organic, funky world beats. It’s a world music stretch, with diverse influences and colors from South Africa to Brazil to Peru and beyond. The music is delivered by his new band, the nu Latin groove. The band includes a world class cast of characters, from world beat drummer Gintas Janusonis, Brazilian multi percussionist Ze Mauricio, Cuban conga master Roman Diaz , Cuban groove bassist Jorge Bringas, guitarist Rafael Gomez, and of course Jose Conde on voice, guitar, and keys. To say this man wears many hats would be an understatement. A fixture on the alternative Latin scene, Conde has experimented with a multitude of formats, approaches, and projects, as a markedly independent musician. Aside from his normally lofty pursuits, Jose Conde also undertook the project of writing and recording a song as a gift to build a library for the village of Makuleke in South Africa. The song “Munghana Wamina” (“My Friend”) was ultimately recorded using vocals by people from the village singing the chorus and Conde singing verses. In the background, you can hear some of the endearing sounds of Makuleke: Children singing, night crickets, cowbells from real cows in herding, and the voices of some of the village community. It is Mr Conde’s hope that the song and an accompanying video, will bring awareness and help to the people of Makuleke. Today’s featured song, “Matapalo Matamusa”, is named after the Matapalo, a strangler fig tree found in Costa Rica and other parts of the Americas. Here, Conde uses it as a metaphor for a person or situation of “Bad negative energy” which “strangles and kills” its host. Another meaning of Matapalo? “Killdick”.
He’ll be performing a free show on October 1 at the Brooklyn Museum. Catch up with him and find out possible future dates on his Facebook page and website. Enjoy their first video from their new album for the song “El Avion”: