The Roots of Chicha 2: Psychedelic Cumbias from Peru
[Barbès Records BR0028 (2010)]
In recent decades the word chicha has had all sorts of negative connotations but the two Roots of Chicha albums compiled by Olivier Conan, leader of New York’s revivalist band Chicha Libre and founder of Barbès Records, has rapidly vindicated this eclectic music of the working class. The 16 tracks on this compilation reveal no diminution of quality from the first volume, although there’s more of an emphasis on the urban aspect of the music. The tracks, which span 1968 to 1981, are an original hybrid which draws from Andean and Amazonian styles mixed with Colombian cumbia, emerging Cuban sounds, California surf, and psychedelia, replete with Farfisa or Korg organs and tremendous riffing on electric guitar with wah and reverb effects. Bands include Los Destellos, their disciples Walter Leon Y Los Ilusionistas, and instrumental group Los Walkers, whose rendition of Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona’s “Siboney” is their contribution to this compilation. This is an album that lovers of South American music should buy and relish, even if they’ve never heard of chicha. Conan contributes extensive notes on the genre as well as on the artists.
—Paul E. Comeau (Comeauville, NS, Canada)