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Various Artists: The Roots of Chicha Volume 2: Psychedelic Cumbias from Peru

Chris M. Slawecki By

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The modern tradition of cumbia music in Peru goes back to the 1960s. But in the 1970s, cumbia began to be known as "chicha," the name for an alcoholic drink of which the Incas were famously fond, and cumbia and chicha both somehow became associated with the poor and downtrodden living in Peruvian slums—ghetto music.

Following up Barbes' 2007 release The Roots of Chicha Volume 1, Volume 2 delivers chicha from Los Destellos' founder and guitarist Enrique Delgado, guitarist Roberto "Manzanita" Hernandez, Chacalon y la Nueva Crema (named to honor British blues-rock supergroup Cream by leader Lorenzo Palacios, "The Pharoah of Chicha") and other founders. "Volume two focuses more on the urban aspect of the music and less on the Amazonian side," suggests project compiler and producer Olivier Conan.

Just like the cresting and crashing guitar sound of Dick Dale and other practitioners defined 1960s surf rock, chicha roots in and grows out from its thin and wiry, trebly electric guitar sound. Los Illusionistas' "Colegiala" was a popular cumbia single, awash in mysterious whiffs from the Middle East and the Caribbean that arise from its simple melody. Los Illusionistas were based on the proven model of Los Destellos, whose "Cumbia del Desierto" ("Cumbia Desert") suggests a guitar band and a Latin percussion ensemble marching—no, dancing—together in a parade through downtown Cairo. Enrique Delgado and Fernando Quiroz swap funky old fuzztone guitar in "Constelacion," which opens this collection.

Los Walkers, specialists in music from Peru and Cuba, electrify Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona's standard "Siboney" with that special sonic blend of surf guitar, rock guitar and Peruvian and Cuban influences—the sound of The Adventures in Jazz Orchestra jamming with Mongo Santamaria—that most folks know as cumbia.

Guitarist Manzanita and his percussionists (Manzanita y su Conjunto) absolutely kill "El Hueleguiso" and "Agua," the most dynamic and Latin-sounding of all these tunes. While guitar and organ jam through these tight little melodies, timbales and percussion swarm over and submerge them like an army of hungry ants—stone cold groovy psychedelic cumbia.

Even if some of this music did not age so well, most of this spirit did.

Track Listing: Constelacion; El Diablo; Silbando; Colegiala; La Pastorcita; Lamento del Yacuruna; Como Un Ave; El Hueleguiso; A Trabajar; Cumbia del Desierto; Mala Mujer; Agua; El Aguajal; Paga la Cuenta Sinverguenza; Siboney; La Danza del Petrolero.

Personnel: Los Destellos; Company Quinto; Los Riberenos; Los Illusionistas; Los Destellos; Los Wembler's de Iquitos; Grupo Celeste; Manzanita y su Conjunto; Chacalon y la Nueva Crema; Los Destellos; Ranil y su Conjunto; Manzanita y su Conjunto; Los Shapis; Manzanita y su Conjunto; Los Walkers; Los Wembler's de Iquitos.

Title: The Roots of Chicha Volume 2: Psychedelic Cumbias from Peru | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Barbes Records

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