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Bomba Estéreo is in the tough position of following up its last dazzling act. The Colombian band's video for "Soy Yo" ricocheted across the internet last year — making a viral star out of pint-sized actress Sarai Gonzalez, who danced her way into the hearts of approximately 17 million viewers. With its message of individuality and self-love, the song resonated with listeners across the world and inspired art, T-shirts and even Halloween costumes.
Composing new music after such explosive success seems almost impossible, but Bomba Estéreo is an old hand at mesmerizing fans. Its new track "Duele" is a bit of a departure from the infectious dance sensibilities of "Soy Yo," but the song's undulating, Armenian-inspired melody slows things down and underscores the duo's unmatched skill for melding musical cultures. Singer Liliana Saumet's beguiling voice winds around the hypnotic instrumentation as she draws out verses that are equal parts heartbroken and catchy.
The song's surreal video unfolds like an animated Dalí painting that is classic Bomba Estéreo: glossy, stylish and vibrant, but tethered by a healthy dose of playfulness (look out for one of the most fashionable tomato fights in video history). Along with the release of the song and video Friday, the band has also announced an extensive world tour.
"Duele" came together after producer Chris Castagno and the band began toying with different rhythms on a flauta de millo, an indigenous woodwind instrument that Bomba Estéreo has honored on past songs like 2008's "Juana." Simón Mejía says the flauta de millo has been an endless source of wonder and inspiration: "I remember playing it for Brian Eno when I met him for a mentorship and he was like, 'Oh my god, I've never listened to that kind of sound before in my life!' "
While Bomba Estéreo powered 2015's Amanecer with the party spirit of the city of Barranquilla and high-energy EDM, the album's final song, "Raíz," was a restrained ode to Andean folk. "Duele" picks up where "Raíz" left off and evokes a subtle sense of tradition, emblematic of the tiny indigenous village in Colombia's rolling Sierra Nevada mountains where the band recorded this song and a few others that will appear on its forthcoming album. The region has imbued the music with a spirituality that unites past and present, and prepares us for more of what Bomba Estéreo has in store.