Seven people on stage can be a recipe for chaos, but Balún have a method to the madness. The band, originally from Puerto Rico and now based in New York City, melds dream pop, IDM, and the Latin sounds of dembow (a musical rhythm very popular in reggaeton music) to create an exciting addition to the Latinx musical canon, a sound they call "dreambow."
Uniting the sounds of Latin America and the Caribbean with one that people normally don’t associate with the region needs a lot of instruments to bring it to life. Pan flutes, drums, drum pads, guitars, charangos (10-stringed guitar-like instruments), violins, drum pads, accordions, and even robotic pots and pans (being hit on their own) all come together to create a wall of sound designed to take listeners to a higher plane of existence. All this, combined with singer Angélica Negrón's ethereal, breathy vocals, made every song larger than life.
Two members of the live ensemble traveled from Puerto Rico not just for the show, but for the Tiny Desk Concert they recorded at NPR earlier that day. Balún don't usually have the luxury of having a seven-piece band when they tour, and the hardships the US territory has faced in recent weeks seemed to put a question mark on their ability to have everyone take part on this occasion. But to that, they had this to say: "We're Puerto Ricans, we stand, and we fight."
Balún's sophomore album Prisma Tropical is out now through Good Child Music.