Various Artists – Roots of Chica 2: Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru (Crammed/Planet Company)

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Traditionally scorned as the trashiest music from the slums of Lima, Chicha (named after a popular alcoholic drink), has increasingly been reappraised within Peru, becoming a hit with the young, drawn to its mix of traditional music with US and UK pop/rock inspired instrumentation. The chicha revival is now in full swing, not just in Peru but around the world. Part 2, again compiled by Oliver Conan from Brooklyn based Barbes Records is an attempt to rectify, in his words ‘some of the biases and inaccuracies,’ of the first volume.

For this writer the first volume was incredible, an insight into another world. So the question is what’s to fix? It was like nothing else, a collision of Latin/ Cuban rhythms, with congas, bongos and timbales, traditional music, and rock and pop elements like surf guitar, organs, bass and drums. The songs were infectious, occasionally tripped out and simultaneously rickety, jaunty and funky. What Conan is suggesting however is there was a certain naivety to his approach on Vol.1 and this edition is more thoroughly researched. Which is great for the liner notes. But thankfully this music is just as mind numbing and beautiful as the first. These pieces were recorded between 1968 and 1981 and focus primarily on urban chicha, moving away from some of the Amazonian based music from Vol.1. Vol.2 sees 11 bands and 16 tracks, highlighting the Cuban influence, with many of these artists relatively unknown. Yet it doesn’t matter. It introduces more amazing ensembles and some really incredible tunes. There’s a certain nostalgic feeling to the collection, the production at times is questionable, but it only adds to the the feel, the spirit in the music. It’s music that possesses a vitality that belies the fact that it has been ignored for so long. You wont be able to turn it off.

Bob Baker Fish

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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.

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