Total CulturaDead Labour Records
By Bobby Gorman
What do you get when you mix the anarchic in your face brashness of The Slits and Neneh Cherry, the tribal drum patterns of Bow Wow Wow, the stripped back minimalist and highly infectious seventies and eighties electro beats of The Human League and Big Audio Dynamite, and then thrown in some steel drums, French accordion and anti-imperialist witches lyrics for good measure? (Yes, I know, the last of these took me aback a little too).
You get a gloriously monolithic and epic eight track 10” EP titled “Total Cultura”, by anti-colonial and bi-lingual tropical dance punk duo, The Malportado Kids (poorly behaved kids) a.k.a Victoria Ruiz – who bears more than a passing resemblance to a young X-Ray Spex era Polystyrene – and Joey La Neve, and a whole lot of hard-nosed and hard-line attitude besides. Boy, this duo are angry and they really don’t care (and why should they) if you know it, or if it unsettles or makes you feel extremely uncomfortable or guilty in any way!
“Little ass/Little hands/Give me back/My Fucking Land” (“Basta Huedo”).
Of course, these anti-imperialist and anti-colonial stances proudly championed by both Victoria and Joey, speak for many of the world’s disenfranchised and disempowered indigenous peoples too. Certainly, that still experienced by Australia’s aborigines and America’s native Indians at the hands of their white ‘masters’ – and in the case of the latter, and with much (sad) irony attached, their black ‘masters’ as well – spring immediately and easily to mind as cases in point.
Interestingly, what sets The Malportado Kids apart and makes them so unique as political and social activists, is their total belief in the magical power of Brujas Cosmicas (cosmic witches) to successfully battle against oppression and oppressive colonial regimes: and it is a belief which comes with a subtle warning to all who would challenge either this magical power, or indeed cosmic witches themselves:
“The witch could be the housekeeper who makes your bed” (“Bruja Cosmica”).
This warning resonates very much with that given in The Slits’ “Man Next Door”. Only this time Victoria and Joey’s warning coyly suggests that it is one which has been given in the first, rather than in the second, person tense.
Perhaps a slightly unexpected inclusion on this 10” EP, given its highly politically charged and militant lyrical content up to this point, is the duo’s cover version of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” (available on the digital version of the EP only). It wouldn’t be considered unusual to suggest that any Rage Against The Machine track (for example) would have seemed to be a far more natural choice.
However, it’s a beautiful, haunting and extremely emotive interpretation, making “Total Cultura” an absolute masterclass in fusing together youthful vibrancy, utterly cool distinctive sounds, and the sheer joy of accessing the arts as a creative medium for personal and community expression…
And this masterclass is, unquestionably, as equally at home being played at a political rally and/or on a dance floor.
So, if there’s one 10” EP I would highly recommend and enthusiastically urge that you rush out and purchase this year, then this is it.