Saturday, May 29, 2010
Cumbia Beat Volume 1 (Vampi Soul, 2010)
I mean, outside from that and some Afro-Peruvian artists like Susana Baca and more recently Novalima, the only other Peruvian musician I've ever known (and take in consideration I grew up in a neighbor country) was this seven year old girl who became an internet sensation thanks to her ultra-mega-bizarre songs about titties and booze.
But then, a couple of years ago, out of nowhere this New York-based label, Barbés Records, came out with a compilation of something called "chicha," a guitar-driven psychedelic version of cumbia that was developed in the second half of the sixties and throughout the seventies in remote hills far from Lima, way into the Peruvian Amazonia. That was the bomb, it unleashed a worldwide chicha fever (right around the same time cumbia was gaining recognition among the non-Hispanics thanks to the remixing work of Mexican and Argentine DJ's). As a result of that, other compilations came out, the amazing work of artists like Juaneco & Su Combo and Los Destellos, that were widely marginalized even in their homeland, was finally being released abroad for the very first time... four decades after it was recorded. Then the guys at Barbés took things one step further and started their own chicha band, in New York; Chicha Libre plays covers of classic chicha songs of the likes of Los Mirlos, along their own compositions sung in a rudimentary Spanish with funny accent but with impressive musicianship (watch out because there's even a Chicha Libre 7'' split out there).
Now the next step in the chicha fever has arrived with this incredible compilation by Spain-based reissues label VampiSoul. If you've never listened to any chicha in your life, this is the perfect entrance to that bizarre world of psychedelic sounds were the classic güiro-based percussion collides with surf guitar resulting in a largely instrumental accordion-free type of cumbia that could perfectly fit the score of a Tarantino flick.
I just downloaded this comp a couple of hours ago and I listened to the whole thing (there are 25 tracks!!!) and it's all pure amazingness, the sound quality is great and guess what, it's released in vinyl too, in Europe at least. But the main reason I loved it so much is the gorgeous cover art. Myself being a huge fan of comic book art applied to record covers (duh! look at all my mixtapes!) I have to declare that this is, so far, the best cover for a cumbia record I've ever seen and if I could I'd buy the vinyl only to frame it and hang it on my wall.
Available on emusic, junodownload, amazon and all other regular digital music outlets.