Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Roots Of Chicha 2-Psychedelic Cumbias from Peru (Barbés Records, 2010)

And the chicha fever continues to spread! Remember when a couple of posts below I told you this one was coming up? Well, I just got the CD on the mail today and I was extremely happy to find out that it comes with a neat 24 pages book full of incredibly detailed information on the history of the genre, plus kitschy color pictures galore! I barely ever listen to CDs anymore, but this one has such a nice packaging and design that it makes me wanna leave it out on the coffee table for the visits to browse.
What I found the most interesting is the retelling of Olivier Conan's (the compiler and the mastermind behind the band Chicha Libre) personal experience when going back to Perú just a few years after the unexpected success of this collection's first volume (from 2007) and seeing the shift in people's perception of chicha music.
Something has been a very recurrent topic in plenty of this blog's posts, but that doesn't make it any less fascinating: the sudden appreciation by Latinos of their local popular music after the approval of a foreigner. This happened also in Perú when chicha, a genre that was vastly considered low-brow and belonging to the under-educated masses, was "discovered" by a New York gringo -thirty years after its heyday- and for the first time exported to the "first world." All of a sudden, chicha was accepted by segments of the hip urban youth or Lima, something unthinkable a few years ago. Pretty much the same happened everywhere else throughout the continent thanks to the help of Richard BlairSeñor CoconutEl GDiploOro11Up Bustle & Out...  
The compilation consists of 16 tracks and unlike its predecessor, it focuses more on the chicha produced in Lima's outskirts rather than the Amazonian jungle. And it goes beyond just cumbia. Yes, cumbia  is still there, but in a much less evident way and in some tracks, I'd argue there's no cumbia at all and there's more Andean folk sounds instead. Still, a quite illuminating trip of musical archeology to take and I suggest you do so with the CD (I wish there was a vinyl version but unfortunately...) so you can read all this info while you listen to the album, you know, the way we used to listen to albums way back then.

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