Living in prosperous Europe can sometimes leave one isolated from problems facing the rest of the world, especially if it isn’t a fashionable cause that is promoted in the media. Ways to expand your knowledge can appear from unexpected places, sometimes even accompanied by high quality dance music. This is the case for Raices, meaning “roots” in Spanish, a new charity compilation from Colombian label Granular Spectrum, with 43 tracks from artists around the world, both well-known and obscure.

All proceeds from the sales of the compilation go to support the children of Chocó, Colombia, which is one of the most deprived departments of the nation. Located on the border with Panama, its remote location and mountainous landscape has caused the area’s predominantly Afro-Colombian and Indigenous population to be deprived of investment by the central government, leading to widespread poverty, infrastructural issues and food insecurity.

We seek to contribute to the transformation of children, families and communities, all the money raised will be used to carry food packages, make community meals and provide educational supplements to more than 5000 children in Colombia, children who live in indigenous communities and children who live in villages affected by extreme poverty in the Chocó regions, who also due to violence have been displaced from their villages on different occasions.

Granular Spectrum

The music on the release is varied, with a mostly dark, esoteric atmosphere. Well sequenced, over the 43 tracks the listener experiences different styles of techno, drum & bass and some more experimental works from both globally known and local acts. While Latin and indigenous sounds are common, at no point does the music play into tired “tribal” tropes, instead keeping the listener on their toes with frequent stylistic shifts that still contribute to a consistent whole.

Starting with a selection of ambient and IDM cuts, the compilation slowly moves towards techno, with an early highlight being Steevio’s Resist and Reclaim, a fascinatingly jazzy take on Detroit-inspired minimal sound. The second quarter of the compilation showcases different styles of deeper techno from mostly lesser known artists, with Colombian producer Nervcell’s Mente y Corazon a standout, where propulsive, futuristic sounds meet a plaintive string melody in a fascinating combination. Also of note is Dorian Gray’s contribution, The High of the Idols which could almost be a lost early-90s trance release.

The second half of the compilation starts with a number of productions from artists on the cutting edge of the current drum & bass scene from labels like Auxiliary and Samurai Music. This interesting collaboration could have come about with help from Sam KDC, who gets a special shout out in the release notes. His own contribution, Demiurge, is almost darkstep-adjacent in its heaviness. ASC shows the versatility of his production skills with a surprising bit of spacious techno while The Untouchables use traditional Japanese instrumentation on Stepping Stones to create the atmosphere of a samurai duel on a moonlit night. Not to be outdone, the Colombian duo Sons of Hidden add a menacing, cinematic twist to their take on breakbeat techno.

The compilation closes off with more leftfield tunes where the sounds get weirder and murkier. A must-hear is Renacimiento by E͓̽lixir de la Inmørtalidad, which is reminiscent of Shackleton through the lens of the Amazon, where found sound and organic percussion create a wondrously ritualistic and menacing atmosphere. Overall, strongly recommended as a varied yet consistently strong compilation for an excellent cause.

Raices is out now on Granular Spectrum‘s Bandcamp