Border crossing

Fuga's message breaks free to survive

"Puente Negro," a fast-paced cumbia which opens Desde la Frontera, the debut album from El Paso-based Fuga, makes the band's purpose clear: "Aquí nuestras verdades cantamos/de los que vivimos nosotros a diario" ("we sing our truths here/about what we live on a daily basis") lead vocalist Tania intones, before launching into a call-and-response litany of the conditions they face and the causes of them. On "Cruzando La Frontera" she offers a prayer for protection from the perspective of a mother about to cross over, a bittersweet despedida set to a driving beat.

Kiko, the group's accordion player, joins Tania on a number of tracks (and solos on a few where she doesn't perform). The two perfectly complement each other. Her graceful, haunting voice - just listen to her carry an extended note to its fullest - is balanced by his, sincere and simpatico, much like his expressionistic accordion playing which elevates even the simplest of melodies, like "Prende La Vela," into so much more.

Desde la Frontera
Fuga's music resonates with a sound and vibe uniquely fronteriza, a post-millennial Xicano-Mexicano sonido played by genre-jumping border crossers weaned on cumbias and rock, with a healthy dose of conscious thought and righteous resistance. Desde La Frontera is like a slice-of-life snapshot, in song, of their hopes and struggles, at once beautiful, moving, and poetically proud. Yet, as much as their songs speak to the experiences of those in the borderlands, not once do they get bogged down in desperation and despair. Instead, they suggest, the solutions will come, fueled by music and love, from knowing our history and acting with our hearts. Unrestrained by borders or boundaries, their message, like Fuga's name implies, must break free to survive. •

By Alejandro Pérez

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