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Bloque

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�These songs are the result of something unique... searching. Searching the garbage can where all Colombian music has been thrown for decades; searching through our musical past; searching for a new way of making music. Our music fills the immense black hole of the Colombian revolution in the sixties, when Colombian people forgot to create their own modern music while they were busy trying to learn how to dance to the sound of the fucking Beach Boys.�

�Salsa and rock aren�t enemies,� insists Ivan Benavides, guitarist and vocalist of Colombian dynamo Bloque. �They share the power of the rhythm, the black heritage; they�re big-city music... We�ve always heard rock on the radio,� he says. �Zeppelin, Hendrix. But we also hear traditional music and Latin music.� Hailing from every region of their vast and varied country, the members of Bloque deliver the best of Colombian music with the urgency of rock �n� roll. In their world, the unruly torrent of rock, blues and R&B spring from a Caribbean source. �To us,� Ivan concludes, �Ruben Blades is the Latin Lou Reed.�

And Bloque is truly a Colombian supergroup. Comprised of musicians backing Latin megastar Carlos Vives (Ivan co-authored Vives� hit album Tierra del Olvido; guitarist Teto Ocampo was Vives� musical director), the eight members of Bloque have toured the world, playing sold-out, stadium-scale shows. They are music masters -- stepped in folk and regional styles, fluent in jazz, rock and Latin music -- whose vision is as unlimited as it is rhythmically relentless.

There�s a riot going on in the capitals of Latin America, a rock �n� roll revolution sweeping aside stereotypes of Latin music and style. Bloque brings an irresistible Caribbean swing -- a psychotropical funk, Ivan calls it -- to the front lines of Latin rock. �In Colombia, we have so much music,� Ivan says. �But somehow, in the �80s it got pushed aside for bland pop bands. There was no one developing the older music. That�s what we do.� Like on �Rap del Rebusque,� the scavenger rap that merges hip-hop and the story-song of Colombia�s Tierra caliente. �La Pluma� pays homage to Peregoyo, the man who introduced electric guitar to Colombian music; while �Majan�� ripples with African-inspired rhythms from the coast.

�I love the culture, the riches of our country,� asserts Ivan, �But the problems are great.� In their powerful rhythms and hard-hitting subject matter, Bloque practice a kind of tough love for their homeland. �Bogot� is like a giant suburb of a city that doesn�t exist,� Ivan remarks, adding that Colombia excels in producing coffee, emeralds, beauty queens and civil wars. But Bloque�s music sees the problems of their home with a global perspective. �Something in this world stinks, and it�s not the sewers. So much concern with image, so much makeup,� Ivan writes about �El Hedor� (The Stench). �Maybe it�s the symptom of a sick society that can�t look at itself without shame.�

�We don�t believe in the big messages, the poets with all the answers,� is how Ivan explains their ambivalence. �We need to be more ironic than that.� And so their name derives from the special commando unit founded to hunt cocaine lord Pablo Escobar. But Bloque also connotes a unity, a strength of purpose. Bloque are a band on a mission: to move hearts, minds and butts with a music that rocks like you�ve never imagined. Now wake up and smell the coffee!

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