The Radical Womb

ThefirstfamouspersonIeverinterviewedwasAndreaEcheverri, front woman for the Colombian superduo Aterciopelados. I talked to her in anticipation of the group's 2001 release, Gozo Poderozo, and she fulfilled all my lofty expectations: ferocious, opinionated, articulate, not afraid to bash American foreign policy, a lover of justice who struck back at patriarchy with a smoky growl and ferocious chords.

But Echeverri's frank discussion of the world proved one of the last glimpses of the woman as a Latina Kali. Gozo Poderozo, while pleasant, showcased the group's perplexing fascination with romantic, goofy love. Fans found out the reason for the sellout a year later when Echeverri announced her pregnancy. The giddiness of motherhood forever muted Aterciopelados' rowdy feminism. One of the few new songs in their 2003 greatest-hits compilation, Evolución, was a saccharine ode to the fetus expanding inside her belly.

Echeverri understandably placed Aterciopelados on hiatus soon after the birth of her daughter, Milagros ("miracles" in Spanish), and the Latin alternative galaxy wept: gone was its warrior queen. She didn't reassure fans when she previewed some self-written compositions in a middling August performance last year at Anaheim's JC Fandango, either: her "lullabies for radicals" prompted me to declare her rockerareputation finished after that performance.

But I now stand corrected as the machopendejothat I am. Echeverri returns to lanaranjathis Monday to promote her finally released self-titled solo debut. I still maintain that the Echeverri of Aterciopelados, the one who raged like few female singers ever raged, is finished. She's mellower now, crafting soft, lullaby-esque songs devoted to Milagros and Milagros' father.

Seems like tame stuff, but Echeverri has replaced the politics of imperialism with a tuneful treatise on a monumental, radical event that I won't pretend to ever understand: motherhood. Consider the album's third track, "A-Eme-O" ("Little Love"), which begins with the bold declaration, "Since you've been born, I'm a better lover." Echeverri exults in the physical changes of her body as a gentle bolerobeat rolls in the background: "As if you had unclogged my conduct/My breasts have grown, my belly and hips/Expanded, my body found its motive."

The rest of the album similarly celebrates the concept of womyn as Mother or Lover of Man, with mostly acoustic musical accompaniments and an impressive swath of Latin American folk music rhythms in the background.

I'm sure Riot Grrls if they still exist or other feminists will howl at Echeverri's simplification of women's roles to those traditionally foisted upon them by patriarchy. But I challenge any chick to find me a more ball-breaking song than "Lactochampeta," an ode to the joys of breast-feeding that inverts a bawdy Colombian song form by celebrating the sensuousness of lactation. "A delicious little pain," Echeverri describes it.

For Echeverri to express such sentiments in the still-macho world of Latin alternative music is lyrical heresy. And it's also much earthier, much truer than a similar attempt at post-feminism by that other rockeraiconoclast, Julieta Venegas, on her 2004 digital Valentine, Sí. Ultimately, motherhood further solidified Echeverri's approach towards the world. She just now remembers to nurture her children while eviscerating tyrants.



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