On the cover of Amansará, the third album by Argentinian producer Chanca Via Circuito (the moniker of Pedro Canale), there is a woman levitating, some lightning in the background and a sorcerer-type figure with a cloak that’s partly rainbow-coloured and partly a gateway into space – all amidst a tropical forest backdrop. It’s pretty striking stuff, combining the traditional with something unexpected. And it perfectly reflects the music to be found in this work.
It’s that balance between the expected and unexpected that has defined his career so far. Since his arrival at the beginning of the decade, he’s become something of a cult producer. Whilst he has been long-established as a popular name in the digital cumbia scene – essentially Latin American music performed with added electronics – he’s also started to become embraced by the wider electronic scene in general and his remixes have popped in, amidst other places, Breaking Bad. That might go a small way to explaining why there’s a little more fuss around Amansará than his previous two releases.
Part of why it’s such an intriguing proposition is the combination of natural sounds with subtle bleeps and bloops amongst rhythms that are gently hypnotic. Some tracks contain hisses and drones that seem both authentic and inauthentic. This is perfectly illustrated by the one-note Guajaca, which is punctuated by keyboard warps and waves and a lone shaker. The end result is remarkably evocative.
As a whole, it cruises along at a steady pace and nearly all the songs follow a similar pattern (save for the tracks that sport guest vocalists; these contain rather more flair). However, for all its neat production, after the third or fourth track, it becomes oddly predictable. Sauce, for all its pretty whistles and bells, is a bit stale and dull. Coroico’s looping melodies are entrancing for the first few minutes but then it begins to drag. These feel like rough sketches. Templates.
The fact that it leans towards ambience and atmospherics for most of its running time might give the rather misleading impression that Amansará is a reserved record. That’s not entirely the case. Tarocchi is the one track where the synthesisers are allowed to blare at full volume. Camino de Posguerra is a bit more lively – the beat skips and jumps throughout and guest vocalist Sara Hebe is a captivating and free-wheeling presence. Similarly, the vocals of Lido Pimenta makes Jardines a really hypnotising tune. With collaborators to bounce off of, Canale’s pieces seems to bounce and jump a little more enthusiastically. Strip away those elements and some of the magic is a little lost.
Chanco Via Circuito makes music that tries to combine a more traditional and primal sound, one that has been known in his native Brazil for ages, with something more modern. On Amansará, he is only partially successful. Despite the fact that Canele is clearly working with interesting textures and sounds, it doesn’t take too long to reach the conclusion that these are ultimately nothing more than curiosities for the most part.