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While Discos Fuentes was known for recording all sorts of interesting sounds from traditional folkloric Colombian music to the latest popular international styles, every once and a while they would put out a “novelty” record, perhaps to exploit a passing fad, and at times the label would green-light something strange or even outlandish. Many of those left-field releases have their merits and have subsequently become collectors’ items over the years.

One such case is the mysterious Los Picapiedra (which translates as The Flintstones, no doubt inspired by the 1960s American sitcom cartoon show), a short-lived studio group with one album to their name, “Kabwlú” (an unpronounceable, invented “caveman” term that is also untranslatable, but seems to have been the ‘traditional rhythm’ of Los Picapiedra’s ‘homeland’). What is interesting about the record is that it is very musically diverse; not only are there the requisite genres that could be found on similar Colombian teenage-oriented groups’ records of the time, such as cumbia, gaita, rock, twist and pachanga, but there is also a smattering of surf, doo-wop, Latin jazz, guajira, ska, and calypso. But what makes the whole thing so special is the odd, off-kilter arrangements, spooky tunings, rudimentary clanging percussion, invented ‘cave’ language, prominent twanging electric guitar and many zany sound effects.

Much like its namesake American cartoon The Flintstones, “Kabwlú” trades in creative anachronism, mixing ‘folkloric’ and ‘modern’ elements with calculated ‘caveman’ humor that works on many different levels. For instance the title tune seems to have been inspired by the pachanga craze and recalls the vibe of Ray Barretto’s massive 1962 hit, ‘El Watusi’, but it has a certain joyful simplicity and rock-solid underpinning that elevates it beyond mere novelty or exploitation — and argues for its timely reissue for today’s audience.

The band was a studio invention that had no major significance in Medellin’s live music activity. However, several of Los Picapiedra’s songs were very popular in Colombia as well as Venezuela and especially in the ‘rebajada’ (slowed down) version as played by the ‘sonidero’ sound system DJs in Mexico, such as “La Hossa”.

Pablo E Yglesias (aka DJ Bongohead, Peace & Rhythm)

Additional research by Luis Daniel Vega

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