Local Love: Gio Chamba
Gio Chamba, Photo: Thomas Ignatius
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I would guess that you would have heard of Houston’s Gio Chamba. Like a force of diversity, Chamba has been energetically making his name known throughout the country with his intense live shows and incredibly high energy. Playing what he calls “digital cumbia,” this guy has become synonymous with the tag “performer” due to the fact that he goes hard from start to finish. He’s been everywhere from FPSF to Untapped Fest, as well as all over our city and outside the state. In late September he released his long awaited debut album, “Chamba” where he drops everything from Latin dance to rhythmic electronica, and still finds a way to titillate your senses at the same time.
Gio wastes no time bringing you into his world with the opening track, “Enter Space City.” The multitude of percussion and twisted electro synths that start his live set flow throughout the song before he’s done and moving past intro and on to fully fleshed out songs. The second song, “Chipi Chipi” feels like it has more depth than it does during his live shows. The spacey way the start of it goes along before being stabbed with a Latin heavy synth orchestration makes the song more intense. The groove heavy way in which he crafts the song while chopped and recut vocals with the song’s title jump on and off the song is pretty amazing. There are moments within the song that feel like there’s a whole ten piece group performing while Chamba mixes in multiple beats and varying synths. This is followed by the Latin fueled horn and percussive weight of “Soul Right,” where Chamba sings for the first time of the release. While the song has a nice groove, the track that comes after, “N.E.P.” adds a more EDM feel to the album. The producer brings in a never ending synth track that plays the whole time while two different beats pop along as he adds funky piano and spacey sounds.
Around the sixth track, Gio sets himself apart from pretty much everything else in music with “Dat P-zza Dough.” Somehow the artist finds a way to keep the Latin fusion going while he crafts a spaced out jam that heavy with dark synths and traditional Latin rhythms. The same could be said about the seventh song, “Planet Cumbia” where the Latin beats and South American themes pepper the track like it came from anywhere but Houston. His use of Spanish vocals really add to the energy while the space sounds glide throughout like they’re flying by. He closes the album off with the biggest standout of the album, “Finest One” where he brings a world that’s all his own to the listener. The rhythms that percolate while beats hop on and off through the track is mesmerizing, and the synth use on the track is something else. Little clips jump in for mere seconds while others stay for measures and Chamba allows you to delve deeper into his universe.
Like all good albums, “Chamba” demands another listen after it plays through. In eight tracks Gio finds a way to allow you to step into his world for just a mere moment in time, while he grooves you through each Latin heavy note. While it’s not as intense as his live shows, it’s still one of the strongest releases you’ll hear in a while and a great representation of his signature sound. You can grab your own copy of “Chamba” when he performs this weekend at Houston Whatever Fest, November 21st & 22nd.