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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Go to the V/A website  V/A - The Roots of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru [Barbès - 2007]

Back in the sixties and seventies Anglo-American popmusic was booming, the canon of the Shadows to the Beatles and the Stones up to Floyd even, we all know the drill. Lesser known is the how these sounds were combined with local traditions with often exciting results.

Luckily there are plenty of labels busy compiling the highlights of these gems that sometimes didn't find the shores across oceans or even forgotten in the country of origin. Music across the globe seems to be in the grip of the skeletal hand of cheap digital effects. Back in the day the interaction seemed more friendly and all the recordings found on releases by Sublime Frequencies and Grey Past and collections like Hava Narghile, Thai Beat A Go-Go and Cambodian Rocks seem more playful and innocent than what happens in music around the world these days, east or west. Brooklyn-based label Barbès sheds a light on the Peruvian psychedelic scene of the sixties and seventies on The Roots Of Chicha.

The Brasilian 'tropicalia' scene is relatively well-known in Western alternative rock circles through Os Mutantes and Caetano Veloso. Lesser known is Peruvian 'chicha', first named 'cumbias Amazonicas', which is different primarily based on the Latin percussion of the Columbian cumbias, which had spread all over the continent. The lyrics are in Spanish logically, which changes the sound too. The use of Farfisa-organs and wah-wah guitars add the 'modern' flavours and one influence I find very amusing is the old one that came tumbling down from the Andes. Here in Holland every trainstation had a those guys with the panflutes playing El Condor Pasa as well as lesser known tradtional songs, until Romanian and Bulgarian roma took over, but to hear that stuff in this context just sounds great.

The collection kicks of with the Sonido Amazonico by Los Mirlos, who, judging by the other three songs included here, are on the more psycedelic and surfy end of the spectrum. Especially in the prominent guitar effects while the Andean themes speak loud and clear. Another more trippy song is Linda Muñequita by Los Hijos Del Sol. Juaneco y su Combo dressed in full Shipibo attire (see the picture on the upper right) and toured in Ecuador, Colombia and Brasil but in 1976 most of the band died in a plane crash. Juaneco continued the band until his death in 2004. Even that didn't stop the band as his grandson Mao Wong has taken over the flame which still burns. Their music, like most music here their music still sounds fresh. Para Elisa by Los Destellos is indeed a lovely version of the wellknown Für Elise.

Tropicalia was an intellectual movement which found its way outside the Brazilian borders, but the workingclass nature of the Peruvian scene made it to be looked down upon within its own borders and therefore neglected in the rest of the world. This wonderful and uplifting collection puts the well-deserved spotlight on these 'new' sounds that remind me of the music of Los Zafiros and Marc Ribot y los Cubanos Postizos as well as adding new flavours to it.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

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